Wigan 13 Warrington 12

Josh Woods struck with seconds to go to settle a frantic, fantastic derby - and tighten their grip on second-spot in the Super League table.

Friday, 6th July 2018, 11:39 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:51 pm
Warrington's Tyrone Roberts tackles Wigan Warriors Liam Paisley during the Betfred Super League match at The DW Stadium, Wigan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 6, 2018. See PA story RUGBYL Wigan. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.

Wigan were hanging on in the final few minutes after seeing their eight-point lead pruned back to four points.

And with three minutes to go, ex-Warrior Josh Charnley - in his first return to the DW as a Wire player - powered over to level the scores. Stefan Ratchford, another ex-St Pats amateur, missed with the sideline conversion.

It appeared as if this brutal match-up may finish with honours even but, in the final roll of the dice, Wigan swept down field and Woods hit the crucial one-pointer.

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The victory, just a week after beating champions Leeds, saw them open up a four point gap on the Wire in the table - and keep the heat on pace-setters St Helens.

There was something quite fitting about the young halfback - deputising for injured George Williams - having such a decisive say, because this was a match when several young players impressed.

Wigan had a handful of senior players missing and lost Liam Farrell to injury during the first half.

But the fringe players did an admirable job, with try-scorer Liam Paisley, Woods and Callum Field - as well as 21-year-old Aussie prop Gabriel ‘The Hammer’ Hamlin - all making notable contributions.

Both sides have it in their arsenal to score stylish tries, but this was not that type of game.

Chances were scarce, breaks were few and far between and - instead - the 13,249 fans were treated to was a fiery, close-scoring derby with plenty of big hits and a touch of needle.

Shaun Wane tipped the fourth meeting between these sides this year to be the most intense yet, and it didn’t disappoint.

It didn’t scale the heights of epic in the opening half but Wane must have been pleased to take a 12-4 lead and - in truth - they could, and should, have been further ahead.

Fit-again Ben Flower replaced suspended Romain Navarrete but Wigan were dealt a blow when Sean O’Loughlin withdrew with a niggling injury.

Warrington war-horse Ben Westwood marked his 500th career game.

Wigan’s goal-line defence received an early test, which they survived, before countering in impressive fashion. Farrell punched holes in the Wolves defence before Tom Davies opened their account in the 12th minute, arcing over from a sweet pass by the scheming Sam Tomkins. The full-back added the conversion.

Warrington replied before the 20-minute mark, Ratchford - recalled along with England team-mate Chris Hill - sending Toby King over after a crisp left to right shift.

And the hosts received a scare moments later when Tom Lineham broke clear of Davies, who tracked him down but not before the winger had released a looping inside pass which Ratchford couldn’t collect.

Wigan, though, began to flex their muscles.

Paisley - who replaced Farrell, in just his second senior appearance - crashed onto a short ball to score his debut try for the club. Tomkins’ goal made it 12-4.

And for the rest of the half, Wigan kept their opponents at arm’s length without managing to trouble the scoreboard, despite several chances and two repeat-sets.

Their failure to extend their lead created a nervousness to the second-half, with both sides desperate not to concede first. It was, to coin a phrase, a high-quality arm wrestle punctuated with some bone-jarring, error-causing, collisions from both sides.

Sam Powell, making his 150th appearance for the club, was placed on report for an apparent dangerous tackle on Daryl Clark, which forced the hooker off for treatment. Lineham squeezed over in the corner to reel Wigan’s lead into just four points, ratcheting up the tension as the game entered the final quarter.

And that tension threatened to snap as the players rushed into a shoving contest, which soon settled down. With five minutes to go, Bateman lost possession inside his own half, gifting the Wolves a chance - which ended with Charnley powering for the line, and just managing to ground under a desperate tackle by Tomkins and Marshall.

The video referee awarded the score to lock the scores, giving Ratchford the chance to win the game - with three minutes to go - from the sidelines.

But that was not the end of the drama.

Wigan: Tomkins; Davies, Bateman, Gildart, Marshall; Woods, Powell; Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Isa, Farrell, Hamlin. Subs: Escare, Field, Paisley, Tautai.

Warrington: Ratchford; Lineham, Goodwin, King, Charnley; Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Akauola, Hughes, Westwood. Subs: Crosby, Patton, Philbin, Brown.

Referee: C Kendall

Half-time: 12-4

Attendance: 13, 249

Starman: Liam Paisley