JOEL Tomkins waited for the perfect moment to register his first try since returning to Wigan Warriors, as the champions defeated Huddersfield Giants 57-4 at the DW Stadium.
Tomkins’ brother Sam was watching his old club kick off their Super League play-off campaign after touching down in Wigan as the first of at least three seasons with New Zealand Warriors came to a close earlier this month.
At 24-4, the game was arguably over by the time Tomkins steamrolled through to crash over in front of the South Stand, as the Grand Final favourites sounded a stern warning to the other title contenders.
But the ex-England RU star’s contribution was just one of a methodical dismantling of the Giants, the highlight of which was a stunning length of the field try from teenager Joe Burgess which might have him looking for his passport come England’s trip down under for the Four Nations at the end of the year.
In true play-off style, Warriors opted to take the two points after five minutes when Joe Wardle was pulled-up for mucking about when Sean O’Loughlin was trying to play the ball.
Matty Smith was on target but after steadily building momentum, Josh Charnley’s opening try after 22 minutes signalled an onslaught.
Once Charnley had crossed for his 150th Wigan try thanks to a smooth Matty Bowen pass which cut Anthony Gelling out of the move, Smith added to the tally with a gritty individual try four minutes later.
And by half-time, thanks to Tony Clubb taking an easy try and Liam Farrell finishing off a Joe Burgess play straight from the kick-off, the champions’ lead was unassailable.
The second period kicked-off with a blip as Leroy Cudjoe made the most of a hesitant Wigan defence to score from a move started by his own kick but Tomkins’ try restored Warriors’ dominance as Dan Sarginson and Matty Bowen chipped in with further tries.
As the hour ticked past, skipper O’Loughlin took a brilliant pass from Blake Green as the Melbourne-bound stand-off shipped the ball out as he was brought down five metres from the line, scoring Wigan’s ninth of a performance drowned in class.
With 50 already on the board, Burgess got his head down to speed away for a try at a pace Forrest Gump would have been proud off - as the Cherry and Whites edged a step closer to a second Grand Final in a row - before Smith twisted the knife with a cheeky last-minute drop-goal.
Tries: Charnley 2, Smith, Clubb, Farrell, Tomkins, Sarginson, Bowen, O’Loughlin, Burgess
Goals: Smith 8 + 1 DG
Wigan Warriors: Bowen; Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Burgess; Green, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Crosby, Tomkins, L Farrell, O’Loughlin
Subs: Powell, Pettybourne, Clubb, Bateman
Huddersfield Giants: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Connor, Robinson; Crabtree, Lunt, Kaufusi, Ferres, Patrick, Lawrence
Subs: Kopczak, Faiumu, Ta’ai, Johnson
Referee: Richard Silverwood