Wigan Warriors 28 Wakefield Trinity 16

Bevan French scored two tries as Wigan kicked-off a crucial period with a solid victory which moved them level at the top of the table with Warrington.
Jackson Hastings goes over for Wigan's first tryJackson Hastings goes over for Wigan's first try
Jackson Hastings goes over for Wigan's first try

The score was level 12-12 until the hour mark as Wakefield defied their lowly position to play their part in an entertaining, tense contest.

But a three-try blitz from Sam Powell, Oliver Gildart and the impressive French propelled them into a comfortable lead.

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Despite the flaky start in which they fell 12-0 down, this was a stoic display from the Warriors. Jackson Hastings pulled the strings and French sprinkled the stardust, but it was built on some tireless performances and heroic defensive efforts in which Thomas Leuluai, Liam Farrell, Jake Bibby and Ollie Partington all caught the eye.

French said: "We didn't get the start we wanted, Wakefield really turned up and it wasn't easy. It was a good test for us and we showed our character."

This was their sixth win in seven games since the restart.

And coach Adrian Lam will hope it's the launchpad for two crunch matches in the next week - a derby with St Helens on Tuesday, and a Challenge Cup semi-final with Leeds.

Lam admitted he rested captain Sean O'Loughlin with one eye on the Cup tie, but he was the only frontline player left out of their line-up.

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Ben Flower returned from suspension, Bibby replaced Dom Manfredi (head knock) on the wing and backrower Jack Wells made his first appearance for the club in three injury-plagued years.

Trinity coach Chris Chester said he was down to his last 17, which may have been the case - but it was a strong 17, with Jacob Miller and Tom Johnstone returning to his ranks.

Lam warned against complacency, pointing out they only beat Wakefield by one point when the season restarted last month.

And by half-time there was nothing between them.

Trinity roared into a 12-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes, with Miller powering beyond Sam Powell to cross and - after Bibby was dragged into touch - Tinirau Arona slicing through the middle of Wigan's defence. Tony Gigot converted both tries.

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Errors stalled the Warriors' attempts to get back into it but gradually, they did improve.

In the 24th minute, Joe Burgess slid over and though a try was - perhaps harshly - ruled out for a forward pass, they didn't take long to get on the board.

Hastings, a threat throughout, finished off an attack he sparked by sending Farrell clear. And moments later, Burgess sent French arcing over, with Hardaker adding both goals.

Miller's ball steal on Hardaker put the Warriors under pressure, but Leuluai produced two bone-jarring tackles before Hastings defused a stabbed kick. Gigot was off-target with a late drop goal attempt and from the restart, Trinity had the better chances - Bibby did well to stop Johnstone in the corner.

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And having absorbed so much pressure, Wigan muscled ahead for the first time on the hour mark, Partington's carry paving the way for Powell to dart over. Hardaker made no mistake with the conversion.

Wakefield didn't fold, the video referee ruling out a Tupou effort for a knock-on, before Wigan wedged open a 10 point gap in the 65th minute.

Hastings' bullet pass freed Gildart and he had the footwork to step through a splintered defence to cross.

And minutes later, Wigan proved they could be just as lethal down the right edge, too, as Leuluai linked with French and the Aussie's pace and balance did the rest. Hardaker missed but at 28-12, they could finally breathe easy with 10 minutes to go.

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Bibby did exceptionally well to deny Alex Walker in the corner but moments later, couldn't stop Johnstone grabbing a late consolation - before the winger later stopped a breakaway Farrell.

Wigan: French: Bibby, Hardaker, Gildart, J Burgess; Leuluai, Hastings; Flower, Powell, Havard, Isa, Farrell, Partington. Subs: Clark, Wells, Jo Shorrocks, Smith.

Wakefield: Walker; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Gigot, Miller; Kopczak, Crowther, Arona, Pitts, Taninoa, Westerman. Subs: Wood, Ashurst, Green, Tangata.

Half-time: 12-12

Referee: James Child