Swinton 12 Wigan 42
Wigan cruised into the Challenge Cup quarter-finals with an efficient eight-try display against part-timers Swinton.
Low on numbers and having been well-beaten in their last two matches, they restored some confidence with their most comprehensive-winning margin this year.
Interestingly, all of their points were scored by academy-products, with Joe Burgess leading the rout with a try either side of half-time.
Lively hooker Josh Ganson scored his first senior try and winger Liam Marshall finished with a personal haul of 14 points against the club he credits for launching his career.
Both sides were reduced to 12-men for a spell in the second-half when Willie Isa and Michael Butt were sinbinned for a skirmish, but it wasn’t a dirty game. Swinton were admirably persistent, but Wigan’s superior quality shone through to give them a comfortable win.
Part-timers Swinton, 10th in the Championship, knocked out Super League outfit Huddersfield in the last round to set-up this tie - their first meeting with Wigan since 2003.
Sale’s small, tidy ground was familiar to Tom Davies, Liam Forsyth, Nick Gregson and Romain Navarrete, who have all played for Swinton on dual-registration this year.
In a late change to the side, George Williams dropped out due to sickness, forcing Joel Tomkins to form an unlikely halfback partnership with fellow forward Nick Gregson.
Young forward Callum Field came into the side, becoming the sixth academy-product to debut this season - four of the others were in the side.
Swinton had seven players who had early spells with Wigan including Jack Murphy, who was impressive at full-back. Not surprisingly, they were quick out the blocks as crafty half Chris Atkin threatened with a surging break.
The visitors, though, settled into the contest and scored the first of their four tries before the break in the ninth minute when Tomkins picked out a cutout pass and strolled over.
As an emergency halfback, Tomkins did a solid job, showing he has a good long pass and sending Lewis Tierney away with a neat inside ball, only for the move to be brought back for a forward pass in the build-up.
Wigan continued to be methodical, repelling anything thrown their way and tightening their grip on the contest through a second opportunist try. Liam Farrell picked up a loose ball for a 19th minute try, and Marshall added his first of five conversions.
The pick of the tries arrived five minutes later, the impressive Burgess collecting Tomkins’ bullet-pass and grubbering on for himself to chase to open up a 14-point lead.
It wasn’t all one way traffic. A short kick-off paid dividends for the industrious Lions, and winger Butt twice went close to scoring in their left corner, before Wigan extended their lead through Marshall’s 31st minute try.
Hooker Josh Ganson, fresh on the pitch, sent the winger over with a nice cut-out pass from dummy-half to give them an 18-0 lead at the break.
But Swinton made a whirlwind start to the second-half, and nailed a foothold into the game with Grant Gore’s early try from close-range, converted by Atkin.
Wigan maintained their composure, and soon restored normal duty, keeping the ball alive for Farrell to thread the ball through the Lions line for Burgess to pounce.
Marshall converted - to re-establish an 18-point lead - and then did well to defuse a short kick-off from the restart.
Swinton had good position but too often, their handling errors prevented them testing Wigan’s defence. And one of those loose carries gifted the ball to Davies, who raced away for a try which made it 30-6.
As Field came on for his first-team debut, Isa and Butt were sinbinned for a brief skirmish which sucked in players from both sides.
Wigan piled on the points with the impressive Ganson and Gregson both crossing from short-range.
But Swinton wouldn’t lie down, and they scored a second try in surreal circumstances.
From a scrum, the ball was kicked on for Jack Murphy to chase. Davies beat him to it, and palmed the ball back - but it didn’t go dead, and Butt was on the spot to score a try which Atkin converted.