Wigan Warriors produced an impressive second-half display to come out 32-24 winners against Widnes at the Halton Stadium on Friday.
Widnes, who weathered Wigan’s opening spell, went onto dominate the first half, but three quick tries from Joe Burgess, Morgan Escare and Willie Isa after the restart, as well as Taulima Tautai’s late score, sealed the win for Shaun Wane’s men.
Warriors centre Oliver Gildart was first to score on 12 minutes. After Wigan were awarded a string of penalties close to the Widnes line, the 21-year-old found a gap as the Vikings line eventually crumbled.
The hosts hit back almost immediately, however, with Tom Gilmore’s kick reaching forward Tom Olbison, who squeezed over. Another chance, this time for young winger Ryan Ince, went begging as Rhys Hanbury’s pass found touch instead of his teammate. Widnes did take the lead after 34 minutes, however, when Danny Craven’s kick was put down by Jay Chapelhow.
Widnes utilised their right edge to good effect again before the break, with Ince going over for his first of the match. Gilmore added his third conversion for an 18-4 scoreline at the interval.
Wigan came out firing in the second half, and their first of three scores came after 50 minutes, as winger Burgess went over in the corner. Escare then danced through the Vikings line to score under the sticks two minutes later, before Willie Isa completed a telling five-minute burst, holding off a challenge to stretch across the line.
The visitors led 20-18 and after Gilmore levelled with a penalty kick, Ryan Sutton and Tautai went over for Wigan either side of Ince’s second score as Wane’s men prevented a late comeback from their hosts.
Denis Betts’ Vikings have now lost five Super League games in a row, while Wigan kept up the pressure on leaders St Helens, and remain just two points adrift of top spot with a game in hand.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Vikings solid in the first half
Widnes produced a solid display in the first half, helped by the return of key figures Hep Cahill, Lloyd White and Patrick Ah Van. The latter continued to settle back into the side and produced good moments, including a timely interception when Wigan were advancing close to the hosts’ line.
Wigan produce second-half surge
Wigan responded brilliantly to their first-half setback with their three quickfire tries. It was a crucial five-minute spell that rocked their hosts and led them to victory. Despite Gilmore levelling with 20 minutes to go, Wigan had the momentum and further scores for Sutton and Tautai sealed the victory. One worrying aspect for the victors, however, is an injury to Joe Burgess, who went down midway through the second half.
Man Of The Match – Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors)
Apart from taking over from Escare with the kicking duties, and doing so to great effect, Powell also led his team in the second half as their late surge was enough for the win.
Widnes Vikings 24
Tries: Ryan Ince x2, Tom Olbison, Jay Chapelhow
Goals: Tom Gilmore x4
Wigan Warriors 32
Tries: Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Morgan Escare, Willie Isa, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai
Goals: Sam Powell x4
Widnes: Hanbury, Ince, Keinhorst, Chamberlain, Ah Van, Gilmore, Craven, Gerrard, White, Burke, Whitley, Wilde, Olbison
Wigan: Escare, Marshall, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Navarrete, Isa, Sutton, O’Loughlin
Referee: Ben Thaler