Wigan 60 Wakefield 12

Josh Charnley and Oliver Gildart celebrate
Josh Charnley and Oliver Gildart celebrate

Wigan opened their Super-8s series in fine style with an emphatic, 11-try victory over Wakefield.

The margin and manner of the win blew away the gloom of their Challenge Cup exit a week earlier - and moved them level with Hull FC at the top of the table.

George Williams scored two tries and sparkled with his all-round play, while Sam Tomkins also finished with a double.

Admittedly, they were playing against an under-strength and very poor Wakefield side, but that will be of little concern to Shaun Wane.

All of Wigan’s backline scored and of their 11 tries, eight were scored by club academy-products.

And with Warrington and Hull FC both losing this round, it strengthened their position at the top of the ladder, drawing them level with FC on points and boosting their for-and-against tally.

Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Josh Charnley returned from suspensions, and with Liam Farrell and Anthony Gelling expected to come back into the fold for next week’s trip to Castleford, Shaun Wane may soon have a welcomed selection headache on his hands.

Wakefield - blitzed by Warrington in the Cup a week ago - had 13 players missing through injury and few expected them to upset the odds.

They simply had no match to Wigan’s punch, pace and panache, as they racked up a 30-6 lead by half-time to send them well on course for a thumping victory.

They served notice of their intent early, when the excellent Williams stepped through the line to score the game’s opener in the fifth minute. Matty Smith added the first of three goals, from five attempts, before he passed the tee to Charnley and then Jake Shorrocks had the role in the second-half.

Wigan extended their lead moments later when Sam Powell barged over from close-range, and with Dom Crosby and Ben Flower softening up the defence down the middle, they raced over for a third try moments later through Charnley.

Referee Scott Mikalauskas - a Golborne Parkside amateur player, who was taking charge of his first Super League game - ignored Wakefield’s calls for a knock-on by Oliver Gildart in the build-up.

Shaun Wane rotated his squad, bringing on all four of his substitutes, but it did little to disrupt the flow of the game.

Indeed, Nuuausala showed signs of why he was anointed the Wrecking Ball in the NRL, with some powerful charges.

And they extended their lead when Tomkins shaped to pass, before stepping and ghosting through Wakefield’s flaky right edge - all four tries by this staged where scored down that side.

The visitors’ handling was woeful, but they held onto the ball long enough to build some pressure, allowing Joe Arundel to sweep over in the 32nd minute. Liam Finn’s conversion cut the home side’s lead to 22-6.

But any thoughts of a surge before half-time were extinguished by John Bateman, who threaded through a feeble, scattered defence.

And Gildart’s try just before half-time - following good approach-work by Nuuausala - made it 30-6.

The start to the second-half was at risk of falling flat as a spectacle, thanks in equal measure to Wakefield’s improvement as Wigan’s stalling display.

But Dom Manfredi brought it back to life, plucking Jacob Miller’s pass from the air and turning on the afterburners to scorch 90 metres down field. Shorrocks - Warriors’ third goal-kicker during the game - converted from in front of the sticks to open up a 30-point lead.

Wakefield couldn’t keep up with the home side’s pace, as Williams wriggled through the defence for his second try before the hour-mark.

And then Bateman broke from his own half to release Dan Sarginson, with Shorrocks’ third successive goal taking them to 48-6.

Tomkins then swept over to put Wigan beyond the half-century, eating into Hull FC’s superior for-and-against at the top of the table.

Craig Hall grabbed an intercept try, which Finn converted, to make it 54-12. But this was Wigan’s night and Bateman inflicted the damage for Smith to score, with Shorrocks completing his perfect five goals from as many attempts.

Wigan: Tomkins; Charnley, Sarginson, Gildart, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Crosby, Powell, Flower, Isa, Bateman, O’Loughlin. Subs: Mossop, Tautai, Nuuausala, Shorrocks.

Wakefield: Jowitt; Hall, Lyne, Arundel, Mazive; Miller, Finn; Scruton, Moore, Fifita, Walton, Tupou, Crowther. Subs: Yates, Arona, Morris, Sio.

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas

Half-time: 30-6

Attendance: 10,983

Starman: George Williams