Wakefield Trinity 14 Wigan Warriors 6: Adrian Lam's young side beaten

Wigan slipped to their third defeat in a row - ahead of their crunch clashes with Warrington and St Helens in the next 10 days.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:48 pm
Kai Pearce-Paul made his first start
Kai Pearce-Paul made his first start

In isolation, a defeat at Wakefield with a team missing 10 frontline players is not too surprising.

But coming after successive losses, and ahead of two big derbies, this inevitably put their slump in form under sharper focus.

Wakefield, without a clutch of players themselves, were sharper with their chances and choked out their opponents' quick play-the-balls.

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They established a 12-0 lead by half-time and though Umyla Hanley broke Wigan s deadlock midway through the second-half, the visitors didn't carve out enough chances - despite some whole-hearted efforts from their homegrown youngsters.

And so Adrian Lam is facing the sizeable task of trying to lift his side for matches with Warrington and St Helens in the next 10 days.

Lam will, at least, be able to call on some reinforcements for those matches ahead.

Oliver Gildart's withdrawal due to a groin problem saw him become the 10th senior player to be ruled out.

Bevan French, Jai Field, Liam Marshall were injured, Zak Hardaker, Tony Clubb and Brad Singleton were suspended while the England-All Stars match ruled out Liam Farrell, John Bateman and Jackson Hastings.

With so many frontline personnel missing, Lam handed a debut to 18-year-old hooker Brad O'Neill while teenager Hanley was on the wing and 20-year-olds Ethan Havard, Morgan Smithies and Kai Pearce-Paul started in the pack.

It was a first start for London Broncos academy-product Pearce-Paul, and his strong outing was one of the highlights of an opening half which Wigan, once again, failed to score in.

There was plenty of grit to their defence - James McDonnell, Joe Shorrocks and Oli Partington led the way - and some rare highlights, including a Harry Smith 40-20 and a lower error count.

The chopping and changing offered mitigation for a clunky attack - winger Liam Marshall was the fourth player to operate at full-back this year - but aside from Pearce-Paul's controlled offloads, they didn't ask enough questions of their opponents' defence.

Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai and Morgan Smithies were all held up over the line while, at the other end, ex-Warrior Ryan Hampshire profited from Tom Johnstone's left edge break in the 17th minute and just before half-time, former Orrell St James junior Matty Ashurst dashed through a splintered defence.

Mason Lino, a lively half with good feet, converted both tries to make it 12-0 at the break.

Mitch Clark, recalled from a loan spell at Newcastle, was introduced early in the second half and after an early fumble tried to add some drive. But Wigan's execution rarely matched their effort - at least until the hour-mark when a piercing, 50m break from Havard created the platform for Hanley to arc over.

Smith's conversion made it 12-6 and, just like in the loss to Hull KR, Wigan fans had hope. Briefly.

Because when Wakefield countered and forced a dropout, Smith miscued his short-attempt which failed to go 10m, giving Lino the simplest of penalties to open up an eight point gap and end the Warriors' chances of a great escape.

Wakefield: Jowitt; Kershaw, Arundel, Senior, Johnstone; Hampshire, Lino; Arona, Walker, Battye, Pitts, Ashurst, Crowther. Subs: Fifita, Wood, Batchelor, Aydin.

Wigan: Marshall; Bibby, Isa, McDonnell, Hanley; Smith, Leuluai; Bullock, Powell, Havard, Smithies, Pearce-Paul, Partington. Subs: Byrne, Clark, O'Neill, Shorrocks.

Referee: Tom Grant

Half-time: 12-0