John Bateman has fired a warning to their top-four rivals that Wigan are showing signs they are peaking at the right time.
The Warriors head into tomorrow’s showdown against faltering Salford chasing a victory which could reel in the gap on the top-four to just one point, if other results go in their favour.
Fourth-placed Wakefield are at Castleford tonight, while Saints head to Leeds in front of the Sky Sports cameras tomorrow.
Bateman was encouraged by the manner of their 18-4 win against Huddersfield last Friday.
And he hopes it was an indication of what is to come from the defending champions over their remaining five Super-8s games, before the play-offs semi-finals. Asked whether he sensed their form was coming together, he said: “Yeah, I think last week, how we turned up – that’s the best we’ve been defensively for a while.
“How we defend usually sets the tone for the rest of the game and to limit a strong Huddersfield side to one try, from a kick, I thought was a good effort.
“Slowly but surely, we’re starting to pick up some momentum.”
After a difficult campaign, Wigan have now only lost two of their last nine matches since Bateman and full-back Sam Tomkins returned to the side.
The England forward concedes those two defeats were hard to stomach, particularly their limp display in defeat at Leeds earlier this month.
“I wouldn’t say the defeats have been good enough – the Leeds game especially was just not us, at all – but the losses are easier to take when you turn up and try more,” said the 23-year-old.
“When we allowed some teams do what they want against us, that’s what’s been hard.
“Some people have been on our back but we’ve only last two of our last (nine).
“I know we’ve been a bit up and down, but I think there have been patches when we’ve shown what we can do.
“Last week, I thought we turned up against Huddersfield and played well.”
With Wigan’s top-four chances hanging by a thread, the pressure has been ratcheted up.
And Bateman said: “You test where you are, what you can really do, and what the team is really capable of when you’re in situation like this.”
Liam Marshall will return to the Wigan side tomorrow in place of Tom Davies, who has been left out of the 19-man squad with a slight hamstring injury.