Five things we learned from Warrington Wolves (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Warriors' 20-6 victory over Warrington Wolves on Friday night...
1 Warriors are the real deal in 2019! It's taken six months but Wigan finally got a monkey off their back this weekend - they beat a top-two side for the first time this year. After a combined six losses against St Helens and Warrington - three apiece - Adrian Lam's side will have gained a huge psychological boost from the result and, more importantly, performance. Right from the off they were faster, stronger, more eager against a side that's doing it tough at the minute. The victory margin could and should have been even more emphatic.
2 Bevan French can play! Most Warriors fans would probably not have heard of the outside back before he rocked up in Wigan earlier this month after securing a release from Parramatta Eels in the NRL. Well they sure have heard of him now, after an electric full debut which saw him scorch over for a well-taken try and only denied another by a harsh video ref call. Adrian Lam said after the game he will take Super League by storm when he's fully settled in - and that is an exciting prospect for everyone with cherry and white tendencies.
3 The kids are all right! There's no better production line in world rugby league than the Wigan junior set-up. And there's surely been no better prospect unearthed in recent years than Morgan Smithies. Still only 18, the forward didn't even train with the senior squad in pre-season! But having firmly taken his chance after injuries reared their ugly head, he's in on merit now - and will hopefully be there for a very long time. Watching him take on the biggest and baddest Super League forwards and not taking a backward step is a joy to behold.
4 Everyone loves a trip down Memory Lane! Nice to see so many former Wigan stars on the pitch before the game forming a guard of honour to welcome the stars of today on to the pitch. Every single one of them has played a part in making this club what it is, and great to have them remembered and recognised for their efforts on such a big stage.
5 There's no doubting who Warriors fans want to win next weekend's Challenge Cup final! There's never been much love lost between Wigan and Warrington. But that pales into insignificance to the rivalry between Wigan and St Helens. Any question of where most Warriors supporters' loyalties will lie at Wembley came when the Sky cameras picked up Justin Holbrook in the crowd (cue booing) and then Steve Price (cue cheering). But of course the biggest cheer was reserved for Adrian Lam, whose face on the big screen brought the biggest ovation of all...