WIGAN warmed up for the World Club Challenge with an impressive 46-22 victory over a New Zealand Warriors team today.
Joe Burgess scored four of Wigan’s nine tries as they sharpened their attack before they meet Sydney Roosters next Saturday.
Wigan, beaten 24-8 by Huddersfield in their Super League opener last Friday, only arrived in New Zealand two days earlier.
And the tiredness and jetlag were evident for spells, especially in the opening half. But there were plenty of positives, including strong performances from Sam Powell and Scott Taylor and some sharp attacking passages from the younger players late on.
They made a whirlwind start, scoring two quickfire tries, but the Warriors chased the lead down before taking a 22-16 lead at the break.
Shaun Wane fielded most of his touring squad, but left out influential captain Sean O’Loughlin and stand-off Blake Green.
Free-scoring winger Josh Charnley returned to the side for this friendly, which was played in front of a largely empty stadium in Hamilton.
New Zealand Warriors kept their big-guns - including world-record signing Sam Tomkins - on ice for this weekend’s inaugural NRL Nines competition. But their second-string caused Wigan enough problems during an entertaining, fast-paced opening half.
The match - played under NRL rules and with two referees - was shown live locally in New Zealand and streamed by Warriors’ TV website.
Wane’s men were quick out of the blocks, the impressive Jack Hughes benefiting from some skillful passages to score the opening try before the Warriors had even touched the ball.
With Charnley restored to his favoured right-side, Burgess started the game on the left-wing, and maintained his prolific try-scoring rate by finishing a crisp move. Matty Smith was again on target to open up a 12-0 lead.
But the Warriors found their groove and responded with two quick tries of their own. Chad Townsend converted his own effort, and minutes later broke the line and - after Burgess had tracked him down - Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard finished on the next set.
Wane freshened up his side, bringing Ben Flower and Eddy Pettybourne off the bench, but the Warriors kept on the front foot with their third, and softest, try, as Nat Peteru strolled through a midfeld gap to make it 16-12.
Dan Sarginson’s swerve opened up a half-chance for Burgess, and though that was snuffed out at the corner, his opposite centre Darrell Goulding displayed his class to lock the scores.
But the New Zealand outfit had the final say of the first half when veteran hooker Nathan Friend touched down Townsend’s stabbed kick, the latter tagging on the extras to make it 22-16 at the break.
Burgess crossed for a quickfire double and, with both sides rolling fringe players from the bench, he was among the youngsters keen to make an impression as they added four further tries before the end.
George Williams, among the 27-man touring party, and the excellent John Bateman carved out an opening for Gil Dudson to barge over before the hour-mark to push Wigan 30-22 ahead.
And then Williams’ grubber fed Powell, who added the conversion from in front of the posts to put the visitors 36-22 ahead.
Winger Dom Manfredi fielded a kick inside his own 10m, and punished a tiring defence to sprint all the way for a try. Powell was unable to convert but, at 40-22, they were firmly in control.
The youngsters proved their defensive credentials, too, protecting their line during an extended spell of pressure from the Warriors, before Burgess had the final say with a simply try from a cascading attack.