Wigan 25 Wakefield 10

Wigan dug deep to claim their fifth successive win - in a match which saw Dan Sarginson play just days after a family tragedy.

Thursday, 6th September 2018, 9:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th September 2018, 11:21 pm
Oliver Gildart goes over in style

The ex-England centre convinced Shaun Wane that he was in the right mindset to take part, just days after the sudden death of his younger brother, Adam.

He played the entire 80-minutes, making his mark with a strong defensive contribution, as the second-placed Warriors moved five points clear of Castleford - ahead of their fixture with Hull FC.

Wigan never trailed and always looked in control, but this was a drop from their derby heroics six days ago.

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Tries by Oliver Gildart and Sam Powell helped them into an 11-6 lead at half-time, with Morgan Escare and Joe Greenwood crossing afterwards.

Greenwood again impressed, while Aussie prob Gabe Hamlin - given extra minutes following the early exits of Ben Flower and Sean O'Loughlin - frequently caught the eye with his energy and aggression.

A minute's silence before kick-off for Sarginson's brother was impeccably observed and - when it broke on the referee's hooter - there was a roar of support for the centre.

His selection meant winger Don Manfredi's comeback - after more than two years on the sidelines - was put on ice.

After the euphoria and electric atmosphere of the derby six days earlier, many questioned whether they would maintain that level of intensity.

Certainly, it appeared that way when they blasted out of the blocks, and capitalising off a slack Wakefield error. Inside 90 seconds, Gildart - again starting out of position on the left wing - exhibited his aerial skills to finish off a crisp right-to-left shift and make it 4-0.

But Wakefield showed their resolve, tidied up their play and worked their way down field. In the 10th minute, it needed Sarginson's try-saving tackle on James Batchelor to keep them out.

Wigan have made a habit of scoring some stylish tries recently, but their next score was old school, Powell scooting over from dummy-half at the midway point of the half.

Sam Tomkins, restored to the side after recovering from injury, pegged on the extras to make it 10-0.

The game seesawed for a spell but when Trinity's Matty Ashurst - a former St Peter's pupil - was sinbinned for dangerous contact, it gave Wigan a chance to extend. Instead, their attempt to punish the void left by Ashurst's dismissal failed, as winger Tom Johnstone snatched Thomas Leuluai's pass before it reached Tomkins and jetted away from the cover defence.

Ex-Warrior Ryan Hampshire's conversion narrowed the gap to a slender four points.

Tomkns added a drop-goal on the stroke of half-time and, from the restart struck a penalty to make it 13-6.

Wakefield, while indisciplined in spells, were certainly spirited and a kick straight from a scrum typified the 'free rein' approach they have taken since their top-four chances crumbled.

But not even a running duel between Chris Annakin and Ryan Sutton could spark the lulling proceedings. It needed Bill Tupou's try - when he muscled in at the corner beyond Gildart, who had switched to right centre - before the hour-mark to snap the staleness.

Wigan, with just a three point lead, rallied. On the back of punching charges from Hamlin and Romain Navarrete, they put some width on the ball but - even after Scott Grix was sinbinned - they struggled to break down the visitors' line.

They needed a special play and Escare delivered it, scorching 30 metres to ground George Williams' angled stabbed-through in the 68th minute, which Tomkins converted.

Trinity, though, refused to surrender and it needed a frantic defensive effort from Wigan - including two superb solo efforts from Sarginson - to protect their nine-point lead before Greenwood sealed a solid victory.