rWigan 24 Warrington 24

Joe Burgess pounced in the 79th-minute to ensure Wigan salvaged a point from a nail-biting headlining clash in Newcastle.

Saturday, 20th May 2017, 10:09 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:47 pm
Liam Marshall scored a hat-trick

Liam Marshall backed up his four-try haul in his last meeting with the Wolves with a hat-trick of tries, to help the Warriors to an 18-6 lead early in the second-half.

But Warrington roared back with three tries to take a 24-20 lead into the final few minutes.

In a breathtaking finishing, Burgess collected Sean O’Loughlin’s towering kick to lock the scores.

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George Williams then had a chance to edge Wigan ahead with the final kick of the game, but his conversion-attempt was wide.

The draw ensured Wane preserved his record of never losing a Magic Weekend fixture - Wigan haven’t been beaten in the annual on-the-road showcase since 2008.

At full-time, players from both sides looked disappointed, but they certainly contributed to an entertaining contest which went right down to the wire.

Organisers again put on a packed bill of activities between the matches - on the pitch and in a fans’ village - and the songs from the various tribes who made up the 35,361 crowd created a carnival atmosphere.

Wakefield’s 34-12 win against Widnes in the opening game had seen the Yorkshire side leapfrog Wigan into fifth position.

Warrington went into the game having won six of their past seven and knew a victory would edge them to within two points of the Warriors, the bookmakers’ underdogs.

As expected, O’Loughlin and Williams returned to the Wigan ranks, though there were surprises in Wane’s side. He left out hooker Josh Ganson - impressive in recent weeks - and utility Nick Gregson in favour of Under-19s half Josh Woods and forward Callum Field, who had each played one match.

But by the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Woods had hobbled off the pitch and never returned.

Both sides were scratchy in an error-filled opening but Wigan settled the quicker, and took the lead in the ninth minute when Marshall poached his first.

It came from an O’Loughlin cut-out pass - albeit after being touched by a Wolves player - and Woods converted.

But the youngster left the action soon after and, as Wigan were adjusting to the reshuffle, their opponents drew level when the ball squeezed from Chris Hill’s grasp close to the line, and Daryl Clark scooped it up to dive over. Stefan Ratchford’s conversion locked the score.

Marshall struck for his second after interupting a scrappy Warrington attack and blazing 90m down field.

With Woods off the field, Marshall - who kicked five from eight at Swinton a week ago - took the goal-kicking duties to make it 12-6.

There was no further score by half-time, but there was plenty of action. Emergency-halfback O’Loughlin pierced the line but the supporting Joel Tomkins couldn’t reel in his pass, and then the England skipper fed Marshall with a looping pass, but the video referee ruled he had a foot in touch.

Warrington had chances, too, but they were kept out by a desperate defensive effort. Kevin Brown - the only player to feature in ever Magic Weekend - lost possession under a bone-jarring tackle by Micky McIlorum and breakaway Ratchford was halted by Lewis Tierney, who was subsequently sinbinned for holding down.

Wigan were still down to 12-men when they extended their lead, Marshall recollecting his own stabbed kick to secure his hat-trick. Williams took over the goal-kicking duties and made it 18-6.

But with O’Loughlin rested, Warrington responded in style with two tries in six minutes before the hour-mark.

First, Ratchford and Brown slickly combined for the former to cross, and then Tom Lineham squeezed beyond Tierney at the corner. Ratchford kicked one of the conversions - strangely, the most difficult - to cut Wigan’s lead to a slender two-points.

The tightening tensions boiled over, with two scuffles in as many minutes - a second off-the-ball, between England team-mates Chris Hill and Williams.

And when O’Loughlin tackled Brown high, it gave Ratchford the chance to lock the score 18-18.

Wigan responded with a penalty of their own, from Williams, to nudge two-points in front and set-up a tense final 10 minutes.

Like the opening, errors crept into the contest, and when Sutton spilled a carry it gave the Wolves the position to edge in front when ex-Warrior Jack Hughes slipped beyond wrong-footed Burgess.

Ratchford’s conversion opened up a four-point lead and, when Tierney’s short kick-off sailed straight into touch, it put them under further pressure.

But they still had time to mount one late attack which finished with Burgess doing exceptionally well to collect a kick and ground the ball, and claim Wigan’s second draw of the year.

Wigan: Tierney; Davies, Forsyth, Burgess, Marshall; Williams, Woods; Nuuausala, McIlorum, Sutton, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Tautai, Tomkins, Wells, Field.

Warrington: Ratchford; Russell, Hughes, Atkins, Lineham; Brown, Gidley; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Jullien, Westwood, Westerman. Subs: Crosby, Philbin, Dwyer, King.

Referee: Ben Thaler

Half-time: 12-6

Attendance: 35,361