Warrington Wolves held Wigan to nil as they moved one step closer to a second Challenge Cup final in three years with a commanding performance at a raucous Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The home side were on top following a high-tempo and aggressive start to the game, and made their pressure count when Kevin Brown fooled the defence with a dummy before reaching out to score after 13 minutes, before Harvey Livett’s conversion was adjudged to have gone wide when replays suggested otherwise.
Warrington were then denied a potential penalty try when Willie Isa was accused of pushing Brown while he was attempting to collect a kick in-behind, but the video ref decided Isa had held his running line and gave a goal line drop out instead.
Wigan, whose discipline had caused them problems in the opening 20 minutes, were resilient in defence and did well to concede just four points in the opening half an hour, but tired in the final minutes of the opening forty as Warrington scored two tries to put themselves in charge of the cup tie.
Firstly, Ben Murdoch-Masila couldn’t be stopped from crashing over the line from five metres out, before ex-Wigan man Josh Charnley expertly finished a well crafted move down the right edge to score the 200th try of his rugby league career. Livett was successful with both conversions to put his side 16-0 up at the break.
Oliver Gildart almost got Wigan on the board after 10 minutes of the second half, but the pass to the centre was ruled as forward. Ryan Sutton was then forced off with a painful looking knee injury to make things harder for Shaun Wane’s men.
The Warriors, clearly frustrated with how their afternoon was going, were reduced to 12-men when Thomas Leuluai was sin-binned for dangerous contact after a cannon ball tackle on Ben Westwood.
Despite not attacking with the same intent as they did prior to half time, Warrington were comfortable thoughout the second half and were able to handle whatever their opposition had to throw at them.
The only points of the half came in the final ten minutes as the Wolves added shine to a fantastic performance. Bryson Goodwin kicked a penalty goal and Tyrone Roberts slotted over a drop goal before Declan Patton went over with the final move of the game as Warrington sealed their progression to the semi-finals.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
No Wembley fairytale for Wane
Shaun Wane spoke before the game of his aim of reaching Wembley and winning the Challenge Cup in what is his final season with Wigan, but that dream is now over after his side proved to be no match for an impressive Warrington outfit, who were worthy winners on the day.
Attention will now turn to back to Super League, where they are just four points behind current table toppers St Helens with a game in hand and are still one of the favourites to reach Old Trafford. This setback will only make them more determined to send Wane off with Grand Final success, although they have plenty of work to if they are to achieve that.
Warrington continue to grow
Warrington put in one of the best performances of the season as they brushed Wigan aside to book their place at the semi-final double header at Bolton’s Macron Stadium.
Steve Price’s side are a threat in attack while they proved they are more than capable of shutting other teams down and seeing a game out, making them a dangerous prospect in cup competition. Catalans, Leeds and the winner of St. Helens vs Hull FC will be hoping to avoid them in Sunday’s draw.
Man Of The Match- Tyrone Roberts (Warrington Wolves)
Warrington established themselves as the dominant force in the game very early on and Tyrone Roberts played a key part in putting his side on top.
The Australian’s kicking game kept Wigan under the cosh and allowed his side to build pressure, while his creativity with the ball in hand caused the Cherry and White’s constant problems.
He was helped by the fact very little pressure was put on him by the defence, but he took full advantage as he constantly looked for possession of the ball controlled the game from scrum-half.
Warrington Wolves 23
Tries: Brown, Murdoch-Masila, Charnley, Patton.
Goals: Livett 2, Goodwin.
Drop Goals: Roberts.
Wigan Warriors 0
Drop Goals: n/a
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Charnley, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood.
Replacements: Philbin, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Akauola.
Wigan Warriors: S. Tomkins, Davies, Bateman, Gildart, Marshall, Williams, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Replacements: Escare, Sutton, J. Tomkins, Tautai.
Referee: Robert Hicks.