SHAUN Wane’s Wigan ensured they emerged with maximum points from their packed Easter weekend after a comfortable win over Wakefield.
Three tries in the opening half gave them a 16-0 lead and they improved after the break, running in four more tries as Darrell Goulding and George Carmont each finished with a double.
What started as a somewhat laboured performance improved after the break and, with other results going their way, Wigan leapt two spots into second in the Super League ladder.
In fairness to the players, it was always going to take a huge effort to back up from their bruising Good Friday derby victory.
The fact they lacked urgency and intensity for spells was expected and understandable. Still, there were plenty of positives, not least the two points, a vintage display by Carmont and a promising full debut for Anthony Gelling, who scored one try and created another.
With several front-line players still injured, Shaun Wane was unable to rotate his squad, fielding 15 of the 17 players who had beaten St Helens just three days earlier.
Pat Richards, who aggravated a thigh injury in the Good Friday victory, was replaced on the left wing by Kiwi Gelling while Epalahame Lauaki returned in place of Tom Spencer after serving a two-match suspension.
Hooker Logan Tomkins made his first senior start, with Mike McIlorum rested to the bench.
Wakefield – missing their key playmaker, ex-Warriors half Tim Smith – had won just two of their nine Super League games before yesterday’s match.
Given the Warriors had comfortably won their last four meetings, and following their contrasting fortunes this season, few expected any other result yesterday.
Sam Tomkins’ pinpoint 40-20 gave them an early chance which they could, and should, have capitalised on. At the other end, Wakefield targeted winger Gelling early on with two towering kicks, but he acquitted himself well.
With the home side struggling to find their methodical best, Thomas Leuluai took matters into his own hands, attacking the line from dummy-half and plunging the ball over for the opening try to make it 4-0 after 15 minutes.
Jeff Lima’s introduction from the bench injected some drive into a lethargic attack, but still Wigan struggled to find their groove. Lima constantly made good metres, and was hindered more by poor-fitting shorts which repeatedly fell down than the Wildcats defence!
Two strong tackles by Carmont took the bite out of Wakefield half-breaks, while his centre partner Goulding provided a welcomed highlight with a determined run to beat four Wildcats players.
A penalty eased them into a good attacking position and, finally, the home side gave the fans something to cheer about, as Finch launched a measured kick to the corner and Gelling was able to collect and ground the ball before being ushered into touch.
It was the Kiwi’s first try for Wigan since his move from the Auckland Vulcans in the off-season, and with Josh Charnley expertly tagging on the extras it took the scoreline to 10-0 after 26 minutes.
Lima’s spill from the restart put the Warriors under pressure, but they weathered that spell, and then exploded into life to score their third try.
Gareth Hock conjured up the opportunity with a robust charge, offloaded to Carmont and – after Lima, Finch and Sam Tomkins had advanced the ball – it was swung right for Goulding to canter over for his fourth try in five games, making it 14-0.
Sam Tomkins’ impeccable kicking kept the visitors pegged back, and with the clock ticking down, the full-back chased his own punt through but was taken out off the ball – giving Charnley an easy shot at goal to edge then 16 points ahead at the break.
Finch’s wasteful kick early in the second-half was typical of the off-character display. But the Aussie stand-off – so influential in the derby win – made amends with an improvised grubber to kick-start their attack.
He angled the kick to the left wing for Gelling to collect, and the Kiwi showed his strength to stand-up in a two-man tackle for long enough to offload to Carmont.
Centre Carmont then carved out a fabulous try for Charnley, arcing into the right-side attack, peeling away from his marker and unselfishly feeding the winger, who bettered the position for his own conversion to take the scoreline to 26-0.
Wigan picked up their tempo, and a ferocious charge by Lauaki set the stage for an assault which eventually led to Goulding crossing for his second touchdown, courtesy of a deft pass by Sam Tomkins.
Kyle Wood ensured the visitors would not be nilled with a try on the hour – converted by on-loan Paul Sykes - but normal service was soon resumed, Carmont darting through a gaping hole to restore their 30 point advantage.
Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Gelling; Finch, Leuluai; Prescott, L Tomkins, Lauaki, Hansen, Hock, Tuson. Subs: Lima, Dudson, Hughes, McIlorum.
Wakefield: Tony; Fox, Sykes, Mellars, Kay; John, Wood; Wilkes, Ellis, Amor, Walshaw, Mariano, Washbrook. Subs: Aiton, Johnson, Wildie, Trout.
Referee: Ben Thaler
Starman: George Carmont