Wakefield 32 Wigan 16

And the hits just keep on coming.

Thursday, 7th June 2018, 10:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 11:27 am
Shaun Wane

Wigan's misery rumbled on as they suffered their third straight defeat - and their first loss since the Tomkins video nasty.

Gabriel Hamlin's first-half try ended a dry-spell of 184-minutes of play without a point, and got them to within eight-points at half-time.

But the same errors which blotted their displays in losses at Hull KR and Warrington resurfaced as tries by wingers Ben Jones-Bishop, his second, and Tom Johnstone put the hosts 26-6 in front.

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Quickfire scores from Tom Davies and Morgan Escare in the final 10 minutes flattered the scoreline. But even before Pauli Pauli crashed over, the visitors never really looked capable of conjuring the type of fightback they showed during their strong, early-season run which propelled them to second in the table.

Far too often they looked devoid of ideas, plays were mixed-up, and they were generally out-muscled up front by a confident Wakefield side in which David Fifita and Jacob Miller, in particular, thrived.

Wigan remain second in the ladder and will cling onto the spot unless Warrington win by a cricket-score against Castleford.

But a bigger concern than the table will be arresting this slump of form since Shaun Wane announced his decision to step down at the end of the year.

The Warriors, as expected, were without three front-line props in Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai and Ben Flower, as well as Joel Tomkins who was starting the first of his four game suspension since a video of him verbally abusing bar-staff during a drunken night out went viral.

Winger Liam Marshall also dropped out, opening up a place for Craig Mullen to make his debut. Dan Sarginson returned while fringe forwards Callum Field, Romain Navarrete and Hamlin stepped in.

Wakefield, seventh before the game, have had a rocky start to the campaign but they had nilled Wigan twice in their last three meetings on this ground. And the hosts made a strong start, capitalising on the Warriors' errors and indiscipline to take a 14-0 lead inside the first half-hour.

Ryan Hampshire and Max Jowitt combined to send Jones-Biship round a stretched defence in the eighth minute. Hampshire - who started his career with the Warriors - missed the conversion but struck a penalty minutes later after Navarrete was pinged for roughing up Jacob Miller.

Tony Clubb, accused of "grubbiness" by counterpart Fifita in the build-up, conceded a penalty while in possession for dissent, and then Thomas Leuluai was sinbinned - for a second successive week - for taking out Justin Horo off the ball.

Such gifts were gratefully gobbled up by Trinity, who stretched their lead through Bill Tupou's short-range effort. Hampshire's conversion and subsequent penalty put them three scores ahead.

Hamlin was introduced from the bench and Wigan, at least, manage to complete some sets, clean up their act and earn some better field position, even if there was little sign of them scoring.

They passed the three-hour mark since their last points - when they took an early 8-0 lead at Hull KR - before booting a foothold into the match before half-time.

Sean O'Loughlin, motoring through the minutes, sent Hamlin bursting through the defence for his first try for the club. Tomkins' goal made it 14-6 at the break.

Wigan needed a quick response from the restart and, early on, it appeared as if they may get it when a higher-tempo attack put them into good position. But when they went to pull the trigger, O'Loughlin's long pass was plucked out of the air by Jones-Bishop, who raced 90m for a try which Hampshire improved.

With the ball, Wigan showed a few better touches midfield - not, though, in their opponents' 20m - and at the other end, Mullen dealt with two awkward kicks and Fifita was stopped short prevent any further damage.

Before the hour-mark, Wigan fell further behind when Miller's kick ricocheted off Willie Isa, he flapped at the bobbling ball and Johnstone picked up and showed great aerial skills to ground. Hampshire couldn't convert but hit a penalty before Wigan had touched the ball, wedging a 20-point gap between the sides.

Davies went close to replying in the corner before he pulled one back with an impressive, determined angled charge for the line. And Escare finished off a scrappy move moments later to reel in Trinity's lead to 10-points. But Pauli's try was converted by Hampshire - his sixth from eight.

Wigan's next game is at Hull FC a week on Saturday before they travel to Castleford in a catch-up game during the international break.