Wigan Warriors 16 Warrington Wolves 10: Five things we learned

Five things we learned from Wigan's 16-10 win against Warrington on Super League's opening night...

Friday, 31st January 2020, 9:17 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 9:31 am
Bevan French caught the eye
Bevan French caught the eye

1. Super League was back with a bang - and a red card.

The RFL is trying to clamp down on contact with the head and Chris Hill left referee Chris Kendall little option but to send him off for his challenge on Sam Powell.

It was the major flashpoint of a dramatic and intense 40 minutes.

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The hooker - awarded a penalty try - was stretchered off but thankfully, the injury is not thought to be serious.

2. Wigan fans will be pleased to have the two points but they won't be feeling too cocky - and Wire supporters won't be concerned.

The hosts had to shuffle the ranks when Powell went off but struggled to put away a side which went down to 11 men for a spell when Mike Cooper was sinbinned.

They bombed several scoring chances, some of their decision-making was questionable and most of Wigan's better work was provided by the sparkling Bevan French.

Warrington had a real dig, threatened to send the game to golden point and appear to have a new star on their hands in full-back Matt Ashton.

But so early in the season, it's all about getting the points on the board as they build and improve and - as Adrian Lam quipped - they're already four points better off than at this stage last year!

3. George Burgess, we were told, would need a few weeks to get back up to speed.

And Lam's words proved prophetic as the big prop fell off two tackles - including for Ben Murdoch Masila's try - in the opening 18 minutes, before being replaced. He didn't get back on after suffering a recurrence of the hip injury which prevented him playing in any friendlies. The marquee recruit had played just twice in seven months.

Jackson Hastings showed touches of quality as he beds into the side - he only arrived at the club four weeks ago - and his former Salford team-mate Jake Bibby had an all-round strong game against former Warriors favourite Anthony Gelling.

Burgess' older brothers Sam and Luke watched on, along with Adrian Morley and NFL star Kenny Stills, who plays for the Houston Texans.

4. Warrington stand-off Blake Austin accused Morgan Smithies of eye gouging. He spoke to referee Kendall and the incident was placed on report and - speaking to reporters afterwards - Austin stood by his claims.

"You don't like to make reports, but when you've got a 120 kilo prop sort of gouging at your face it's not something we need in our game," said the GB winger. "I don't know what'll come of it but I certainly wouldn't do it to him so I wouldn't expect it in return."

The match review panel will view footage on Monday and decide whether to charge any players.

5. Finally, Wigan's match day experience was dialed up a notch with the opening of the fanzone at Robin Park.

The indoor track was carpeted and had tables, patio heaters, bars and a stage, with comic moments from Andy Gregory and good music from local artist Marcus Grimshaw.

There were teething problems - and some grumbles about the £4.50 cost of a pint - but it was certainly an encouraging start.