Wane salutes '˜unbreakable spirit' after Flower red-card
Shaun Wane hailed the 'unbreakable spirit' as his 12-man Wigan roared back to claim a stunning victory at Warrington.
The Warriors trailed 28-14 midway through the second-half when Ben Flower was sent off for a late, and high, challenge on Declan Patton.
But down a man, they crossed for four tries in the final quarter - and kept their opponents scoreless - to claim a thrilling win which sent out a clear statement of intent to their rivals.
Matty Smith’s late drop-goal had put Wigan one-point ahead before Anthony Gelling’s intercept try secured a 35-28 victory.
Wane said: “For guts and determination, and for the pressure we were under, it was a fantastic win.
“Warrington played well, but we had that never-say-die attitude and we did some good things.”
The win denied, or at least delayed, Warrington from getting their hands on the league leaders’ shield - they now head to Hull FC to decide who finishes on top.
It also ensured the Warriors will finish 2nd, and claim a home semi-final, if they beat Catalans next Friday.
This was their first win against the Wolves in three meetings this year, and completed a hat-trick against their play-offs rivals within the last month.
Asked whether this will boost their confidence ahead of the Grand Final race, Wane took another swipe at the critics who have questioned their trophy-winning credentials.
“We don’t see it that was. We genuinely take it game-by-game,” he said.
“We’ll keep performing, keep getting hammered by everyone, and keep turning up. As long as that dressing room believes, we trust each other and have an unbreakable spirit.
“The players know what’s been said, but it’s just a really good spirit in there.”
On Flower’s dismissal - his first red-card since the 2014 Grand Final - Wane said: “If you slow anything down you can make it look bad. I didn’t see much in that, I’m sure it will be seen the correct way.”
Wane’s view was echoed by counterpart Tony Smith, who felt the Welsh prop’s dismissal was unwarranted.
“I thought it was harsh, I did,” said Smith, who was left shaking his head at a sinbinning of Stefan Ratchford in the first-half.
“I thought there were some big decisions in that game. I cant get into trouble if I say I thought Wigan got some bad calls at stages too. I was shaking my head at some of the calls that went against them, as well.”
Smith stressed he wasn’t blaming officials for the outcome, saying at 28-14 his players had enough chances to put the game to bed.
“We were in a position where you’d like to think you could close a game out, with the opposition a man down, but teams lift and they lifted,” he added.
“I have to commend Wigan, some of their defensive effort was fantastic. I also thought the area they hurt us was their late off-loads, we didn’t do a good enough job on some of their key players.”
Hooker Sam Powell, concussed in the first-half, is expected to be fit for Friday’s Big One 6 against Catalans - a game which may mark captain Sean O’Loughlin’s return.
Willie Isa may face trouble after appearing to give two-fingers to the Warrington fans after being substituted in the first-half. The incident took place off the pitch - and won’t be assessed by Monday’s match review panel - but he could face a fine or caution.