Five things we learned from Wigan’s 18-4 win against Huddersfield...
1. Wigan kept their top-four hopes alive with a scrappy victory - as, on the dark side of Billinge Hill, St Helens tumbled to defeat.
The Warriors only nudged up one place, to seventh, but they trail Saints by two-points with fourth-placed Wakefield one point further ahead.
There are five rounds remaining before the play-offs semi-finals, starting with next Friday’s visit of Salford. If Wigan win, and Saints lose to Leeds and Wakefield go down at Castleford, Shaun Wane’s men could head to Wembley just one-point from a top-four spot.
Those who had written off their play-offs chances may have spoken too soon.
2. Good result for Wigan? Yes. Good game? No.
There were frequent interruptions – 20 penalties and 30 errors – with wet conditions hampering the match as a spectacle. Wane was baffled why the DW Stadium pitch was being watered before kick-off, and cut his players some slack for the number of spills.
Both attacks inevitably suffered. Wigan finished with three tries but they bombed at least as many, as Joe Burgess twice spilled close to the line and the impressive Sam Powell losing possession as he darted over.
3. The over-riding positive for Wigan, other than the result, was their defensive display.
After a slack performance in defeat at Leeds the week before, Wane had ordered his players to the wrestling pit. And the ploy seemed to work - the Warriors defence looked hungry and well-marshalled, limiting the Giants to Jermaine McGillvary’s 10th minute opener. From that point, Anthony Gelling and Liam Farrell crossed before half-time and, 12-4 ahead, Sam Tomkins added the crowning glory on the hooter.
4. Thomas Leuluai won the official man of the match but this was not a game in which one player stood head and shoulders above the rest.
That said, there were notable contributions from Tomkins, Powell and tackle-hungry Farrell, Tony Clubb and Tom Davies carried the ball strongly, and Oliver Gildart pulled off a terrific try-saving tackle on Alex Mellor.
5. A word on Hudderfield.
They had drawn twice with Wigan this season but Giants coach Rick Stone conceded their opponents deserved this win.
The Yorkshire outfit were physical and aggressive - Sabastine Ikahihifo made a couple of bone-rattling hits - and, despite falling five points from a top-four spot, Stone is not giving up on a top-four spot.