Wigan Warriors fans reflect on the victory over Warrington Wolves and look ahead to this weekend's game against Salford Red Devils
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A win based on endeavour, resolve and commitment to your mates.
It wasn't pretty, and Warrington were downright dreadful.
However Wigan came up with all the ingredients in one of the gutsiest performances I have ever seen.
The Warriors had the better of the opening exchanges and even Kaide Ellis' ridiculous decision to go after Ratchford not once, but twice, resulting in an early red card, couldn't dampen the spirit and work ethic of the team.
Wigan's pack looked lightweight compared to the Wolves even before the dismissal, but their fitness on a muggy day shone through.
Toby King reacted to Abbas Miski's brilliant touch back from a Harry Smith kick and the halfback duly converted.
I have been overly critical of Smith's kicking in recent weeks, but before the game I was given an astonishing stat from Super League Pod's Mark Illingworth.
Smith's conversion rate at the DW this season stands at 84%, whereas away from home it is in the forties.
The fact Smith knocked over all his attempts including the crucial touchline conversion only corroborates the evidence.
Toby King returned the favour with supple hands to send Miski away for an acrobatic match winner.
Firstly, Toby King, if rumours are to be believed, will be heading back to the Halliwell Jones next season, especially with the further relaxing of the marquee rule.
I wonder what goes through his head when he hears the Wire fans booing his every touch, he has been reinvigorated this season, is clearly a well liked bloke by his teammates and seems to be thriving at the club.
Abbas Miski on his outside, has made himself pretty much undroppable meaning Wigan have to fit French in elsewhere.
Give the lad a contract, if just for the Boney M song in his honour.
Although Wigan's scramble was tested, particularly at the end when Warrington inexplicably passed the ball forward to literal livewire Josh Thewlis, it was a deserved victory.
This weekend's opponents Salford lost out to a reinvigorated Hull KR in the cup so will be looking to continue their impressive league form.
Wigan meanwhile will look to bounce back in Super League after some shaky performances. Although once again we will lose a pack man thanks to Ellis' three game ban, the return of Ethan Havard with an outstanding performance in the cup was huge, as was the announcement of a four-year contract shortly after.
Singleton will hopefully get some more fitness this week and suddenly things don't look so bad.
Aside from bottom club Wakefield and the cup semi, this is the last of another torrid stretch of away fixtures so hopefully the Warriors will provide some home comforts in the weeks to come.
Prior to the game I wasn’t positive at all after last week’s defeat against Saints which confirmed our depressing form since May.
Wire had also been inconsistent over the past few months but I was concerned about how our pack would handle the much bigger Wire.
After five or so minutes of the game there were a few glimpses of our tenacity in defence that had been lacking in previous weeks so my low confidence was beginning to turn slightly.
When Ellis received the red card I feared the worst and thought that another 30 point loss was on the cards.
How wrong could I have been?
A fantastic performance and one of our best Challenge Cup displays since I’ve been watching us from the mid-sixties.
We played with a fantastic intensity which I didn’t think that we could sustain for a full 80 minutes but we did.
During the game I was fully expecting Wire to finally settle down and make use of their extra man at any time and see us exit the Challenge Cup.
Having watched the game again in the cold light of day we actually were the better team by some margin and if we had lost then it would have been an injustice.
The atmosphere on the ground was really good with the fans getting behind the team from the off and this support grew as it was sensed that we could actually win despite being a man down for nearly 75 minutes.
I thought that Havard, Shorrocks and Smith were particularly good.
Havard will be remembered for decades for his herculean efforts and for me was the man of the match.
Shorrocks’ fitness levels are ridiculous, played for 80 minutes and never stopped running and tackling.
Really pleased that Smith’s conversion from the touchline was the deciding score in the match and I hope that his confidence in his kicking abilities grows as a result. A great effort and an even better result.
I was very surprised when I learned of Salford’s defeat to HKR in the Challenge Cup on Sunday and I fully expect them to be fully focused on Sunday against us and get themselves back on the winning road.
Salford are a very good team to watch and at their best can literally beat any team in the competition.
With Isa, Cooper, Powell, KPP and now Ellis not available it will be very difficult to get a win away at Salford.
Barring other injuries I expect that Mago will replace Ellis which will mean very long minutes again for Havard supported to a lesser degree by Byrne.
Singleton did very few minutes against Wire and I suspect that he may be playing with an injury which again could mean limited minutes from him again on Sunday.
Harvie Hill seems to be getting better with his passing game and I hope that he can do additional minutes against Salford.
My fear is that the win against Wire may have emptied the tanks so to speak and Salford with their pace and willingness to use the ball will expose us.
Hopefully we can once again raise our game and with Field getting back to full fitness and French having more game time at six our attacking strengths can be our main weapon to deliver a much needed victory in the league.
I suspect that there could be very little between the teams at full time but hopefully we can kick on and get another winning sequence going prior to the Challenge Cup semi-final.
Last week I wrote about my optimism and hope for a performance which would rattle the Wire and I am full of the same this week following that very match on Sunday.
If we sweep away the annoying red card after just under seven minutes and look at the rest of the game, I wish there were sixteen man of the match medals to hand out as it was very difficult to select one from a squad who stuck together and fought for one another- producing one of the most memorable games for a long time.
Liam Farrell led from the front, the quiet man was a threat all over the park and ran himself to water for the full 80 minutes.
A simply superb player and a man who epitomises the standards we strive to achieve here at Wigan, we are so very lucky to have him.
There were stand out performances from several big game players too with Harry Smith stepping up and handling the pressure beautifully with his tactical and spot kicks.
The little general guides us around and directs play as every good half back should.
If I were pushed though, I would have to name Ethan Havard as our man of the match.
Watching this young man develop as a youngster and now blossom on the big stage is a joy.
He knew just when to drive that ball in and made yards after impact every time.
In defence his effort was monumental and I just cannot imagine how he and the lads around him managed to keep going with such energy for the eighty minutes.
Great plaudits must go to the performance department with the likes of Chris Barron, Jack Phillips and Ian Bentley preparing the squad in such a meticulous manner that they can cope with the rigours of games like this one, a real team effort.
Of course, the games keep on coming and they don’t get any easier either.
Salford will be licking their wounds after being dumped out of the Cup by Hull KR.
They will be a dangerous team to play next and they have a fantastic squad who will be determined to bounce right back.
Players to watch will be Sneyd, Brodie Croft and Tyler Dupree but the threats are all over and we will need to approach this game with the right mindset to get a result.
I do expect we will though and look forward to gaining momentum as we move into the second half of the season.
What a great win that was, overcoming a difficult start after being reduced to 12-men after six minutes or so.
I’m disappointed with Ellis, who has improved so much recently, blotting his copybook at a crucial time with decisions to be made on who to retain and who to release, especially with him taking up a quota spot.
The sending off galvanised us, and we showed a passion and determination- which has been missing for the last few games.
We looked comfortable in the first half and could have been leading by more, as we executed a simple game plan, which meant we dominated field position, and this allied with some poor Wire handling gave us an 8-0 lead at the break.
I thought Smith’s kicking game was simple but effective in pinning the opposition back close to their goal line.
Havard was immense, and great news that he has signed a four-year deal, but it was a good all round team effort, and we scrambled well in defence, as Wire improved after the break.
I think over the 80 minutes we deserved to go through, special mention to the Warriors faithful who were loud and proud in getting behind the boys, when they needed a lift.
Looking forward to Salford, another tough game awaits, they were out of sorts last week, but they are a strong team and their backs in particular are exciting to watch.
It’s the last game on the road, in this consecutive run of away Super League games, let’s hope we can finish on a high and bring home the two points, fingers crossed!