Wigan Warrriors kept the pressure on St. Helens at the summit of the Betfred Super League, beating Wakefield 25-10 at the DW Stadium. Here’s our verdict…
Wigan edged closer to securing a home play-off semi-final with a determined, dogged win over a spirited Wakefield side.
Sam Powell crossed after Oliver Gildart opened the scoring inside the opening ninety seconds as the Warriors stormed to a 10-0 lead within the first 20 minutes.
But Wakefield refused to lie down. Despite Matty Ashurst being sin-binned for a dangerous tackle shortly before the break, his Wakefield side struck next as Johnstone ran the length of the field after intercepting 10 metres from his own line to score his 21st try of the season.
Johnstone’s try got Trinity back in the contest and the visitors had numerous further chances to score before Sam Tomkins kept his nerve to kick a nerve-settling drop-goal as half time beckoned.
Bill Tupou’s impressive try closed the gap to give Wakefield hope, but when Morgan Escare and Joe Greenwood went over in the final quarter, the game was finally won.
St Helens are now only four points clear of arch rivals Wigan and, although they have a game in hand, the League Leaders’ Shield winners but must be feeling the heat.
Meanwhile sixth-placed Wakefield can now only focus on hunting down Huddersfield Giants in fifth spot.
Wakefield lacked some creative spark without the absent Kyle Wood and David Fafita, while Warriors welcomed back their talismanic full-back Sam Tomkins.
The ever-present England international contributed to the opening score before Powell took his chance to sneak in from dummy half from a metre out for the second try of the game.
Joe Greenwood could have further extended Wigan’s lead, but the second row was agonisingly held up after crossing the Wakefield line.
The home side dominated territory and possession for the vast majority of the game – Romain Naverette and Greenwood were both held up with under twenty to play – while Trinity were reduced to 12 men for the second time when Scott Grix was penalised for a dangerous tackle.
This time, Wigan took made the extra man count as Escare slid in by the left corner after collecting up George Williams’ kick. Greenwood then forced his way over late on and Wigan killed the game once and for all.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Wigan aren’t giving up
Being three wins behind leaders St. Helens, Wigan would be forgiven by many for settling for second place. But with Castleford breathing down their necks, they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas. If the Warriors are going to go down to their fierce rivals, they’ll go down fighting.
Wakefield are inconsistent
Trinity seem to be hit and miss at the moment. Amazing one week, average the next. With fourth place out of reach, the best they can do is finish fifth and that would probably be a fair reflection of their season.
Man of the Match – Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
Despite not crossing the whitewash himself, Tomkins made sure he got on the scoresheet from the boot; kicking all four tries and even adding in a drop goal for good measure. The full-back has been immensely important for Wigan since his return from Australia’s NRL and if his side are going to be successful in hunting down St. Helens, he will have a huge part to play.
Wigan Warriors 25
Tries: Gildart, Powell, Escare, Greenwood
Goals: Tomkins (4)
Drop Goals: Tomkins
Wakefield Trinity 10
Tries: Johnstone, Tupou
Drop Goals: n/a
Wigan Warriors: Tomkins, Davies, Isa, Sarginson, Gildart, Williams, Leuluai, Navarrete, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Greenwood, O’Loughlin
Interchanges: Clubb, Escare, Hamlin, Sutton
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Arona, Randell, Huby, Batchelor, Ashurst, Crowther
Interchanges: Pauli, Arundel, Hirst, Annakin
Referee: Ben Thaler