SHAUN Wane’s decision to rest five front-line stars came back to haunt him as Wigan suffered a shock defeat at Widnes yesterday.
The Vikings stormed back from an 18-point deficit to clinch their first Super League victory.
Incredibly, some bookmakers had Wigan at 250-1 on to win the match. But Denis Betts’ outfit defied the odds to produce a gutsy display and deny the visitors the chance to climb to the top of the table.
Wigan lost Lee Mossop and Darrell Goulding during the match, but the Vikings were good value for the result, as they forced their opponents into making a catalogue of errors.
Lloyd White’s 71st minute drop-goal ultimately proved decisive but even then the drama was not finished. Josh Charnley agonisingly sent a late penalty off-target – his first miss of the afternoon. Then, with a minute remaining, Wigan were awarded a scrum on the 10m line only for Brett Finch to have the ball ripped from his grasp.
Earlier, young-guns Matt Russell and Joe Mellor scored tries on their Wigan debuts – but they will remember this game for a very different reason.
Wigan seemed well in control when they led 18-6 on the half-hour mark. But two quickfire tries – by on-loan Stefan Marsh and ex-Warrior Shaun Briscoe – dragged the scores back level at the break.
Again the Warriors established a lead as three rapid tries by Brett Finch, Mellor and Russell powered Wigan into a 36-18 lead – only for Widnes to again reply.
Widnes: Briscoe; Flynn, Marsh, Phelps, Isa; O’Brien, Craven; Pickersgill, Clarke, Davies, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Subs: White, Finnigan, Kite, Mullaney.
Wigan: Russell; Gelling, Goulding, Hughes, Charnley; Finch, Mellor; Lima, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, Tuson. Subs: Lauaki, Flower, L Tomkins, Spencer.
Referee: Robert Hicks