Wigan Warriors 34 Wakefield Trinity 6: Jake Bibby scores a hat-trick

Jake Bibby chalked up his fifth try in the space of a week as Wigan made it back-to-back wins on their return to Super League action.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 8:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 8:16 pm
Jake Bibby's first try

Many neutrals were looking forward to seeing if classy Trinity winger Tom Johnstone could sprinkle his stardust on this early-evening contest.

But when he left the action with a head-knock, it was his counterpart Bibby who sparkled with a fabulous hat-trick - six days after a double against Leigh in the opener.

His second-half efforts helped Adrian Lam's style take a firm grip of the contest as from a 6-6 half-time scoreline, they powered to an ultimately satisfying and convincing win.

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Zak Hardaker and John Bateman also touched down during their second half super-show, while Willie Isa marked his 150th appearance for the club with an impressive display.

Given their absentees, most fans would have taken this scoreline before kick-off. And having rediscovered their stylish attack, they will head into next week's Challenge Cup tie at York with some confidence.

As expected, Jackson Hastings returned to the side after being left out for their scrappy 20-18 win against Leigh.

But it was Lam's decision to start with Liam Farrell at centre - for the first time in his career - which dominated pre-match conversations.

The move, forced on them following Jai Field's injury on debut last week, allowed Bibby to solve the wing dilemma with Dom Manfredi, Liam Marshall and centre Oliver Gildart also on the sidelines - and Bevan French operating as water-carrier after only just returning to the UK.

It was very much a make-shift three-quarters, which went some way to explaining their flat and frustrating attack which produced just one try before the break.

By contrast, their defence had real teeth, full of energy and aggression. Which was a surprise that two of their most experienced campaigners, Bateman and Isa, were far too casual in trying to wrap up David Fifita in the 20th minute. The big Wakefield forward shook off their attempts on a charge to the line.

With memories of their horror start against Leigh fresh in their minds - when they fell 18-0 behind - Wigan dialled up the ante.

Liam Byrne and Ethan Havard gave them some drive from the bench and having set a solid platform, Ollie Partington wriggled over through Jordan Crowther's tackle for a 24th minute try which was given the green light from the video referee. Zak Hardaker struck the simple conversion to lock the scores 6-6.

And that's how it remained until half-time, though there was other drama as Johnstone - identified as Wakefield's key threat in the build-up - left the action for a head injury.

Wigan wasted three decent chances to take the lead, through a sloppy pass from a breakaway Byrne, a mix-up between Hardaker and Farrell and when Joe Shorrocks elected to charge for a try rather than continue a right-to-left attack.

And Wakefield had a glaring opportunity of their own but hooker Josh Wood was held up over the line just before the break.

Lam's side showed a bit more adventure with the ball from the restart, with Hastings settling back into his chief playmaker role, and in the 47th minute a sweep to the right finished with Bibby diving spectacularly in the corner for his third try in two games.

Hardaker nailed the touchline conversion to open up a six point gap. And the full-back powered them further ahead with a converted try in the 57th minute - though the credit belonged to Farrell for breaking the Trinity defence with a pinballing run and breaking from deep.

They seemed to be growing in confidence and they went into the final quarter 24-6 ahead following another stylish finish from Bibby, Hardaker again on target. Wigan would have gone further in front, too, had Hanley been able to regather a bobbling kick into the ingoal.

But with Wakefield fading, Bateman scored his first try since returning to the club with a powerful dummy-half dart. Hardaker maintained his perfect record with the boot to make it 30-6 but lost his perfect record with the boot when he was unable to convert Bibby's third - which the full-back created with a measured cross-field kick.

Wigan: Hardaker; Bibby, Isa, Farrell, Hanley; Leuluai, Hastings; Singleton, Powell, Bullock, Bateman, Smithies, Partington. Subs: Shorrocks, Havard, Byrne, Smith.

Wakefield: Hampshire; Senior, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Lino; Fifita, Crowther, Arona, Ashurst, Pitts, Westerman. Subs: Wood, Green, Tanginoa, Batchelor.

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas

Half-time: 6-6

Starman: Jake Bibby