Five things we learned from Wigan’s 42-12 Challenge Cup win at Swinton...
1. It was one of those days when everyone left reasonably happy.
Wigan fans had a trip to a new ground - and what a charming, compact venue Heywood Road is - and watched their team register their biggest win of the year, Swinton swelled their coffers, the game was entertaining enough and the Championship part-timers emerged with plenty of credit. And there were no injuries. Not a bad day out.
2. Joel Tomkins has been a centre, a second-rower and a middle and - at 30 - he seems too old to reinvent himself again.
But when George Williams withdrew with a migraine, he moved to stand-off to form an unlikely halfback combination with Nick Gregson, another forward. Tomkins isn’t a natural organiser and clearly doesn’t have Williams’ footwork, but he took to the role well, showing he had a nice long pass - a la Sean O’Loughlin - as well as feeding Lewis Tierney on his inside.
Tomkins won’t be in the playmaker role this weekend, with O’Loughlin, Williams and possibly Thomas Leuluai and Sam Powell back in the mix.
3. Liam Marshall credits his season at Swinton last year for propelling him into the Wigan ranks, and he received a warm-reception from the home fans.
Marshall - who scored 20 tries in 22 appearances for the Lions - scored one try and settled into the goal-kicking role, too, nailing five from eight attempts. Interestingly, all of Wigan’s 42 points were scored by club-trained players, including a try by fellow winger Tom Davies - who himself has had a spell on dual-registration at Swinton.
And the two wingers capped a fine Sunday by agreeing new contracts with the club which run until the end of 2020 - well-earned reward for their sparkling start to the season. It also means Shaun Wane has five wingers under contract for at least the next three years.
4. Wigan were good value for the win but the scoreline doesn’t reflect Swinton’s persistence.
They kept battling until the end, their two tries bookending a four-try block from the visitors during the second-half.
Halfback Chris Atkin was a threat and full-back Jack Murphy - one of seven ex-Wigan juniors in their ranks - frequently caught the eye.
5. And so Wigan’s reward for victory is a quarter-final at Warrington - their opponents at the Magic Weekend.
It is an intriguingly tie and would seem the likely favourite to be picked by the BBC to be screened on Saturday, May 13.
The Beeb has first and second pick of the fixtures, with Sky screening the other two.
Leeds have avoided Super League opposition, with a home tie with Featherstone, while Salford take on Wakefield and Hull FC host Castleford.
There may have been some relief that Wigan were drawn away... had it been at home, it would probably have been switched to Leigh as annual pitch maintenance work is carried out at the DW Stadium.