Wakefield 10 Wigan 16

Liam Marshall scores against Wakefield
Liam Marshall scores against Wakefield

Winger Liam Marshall’s star continues to rise after he sealed a tense win at Wakefield.

Warriors held a nervy 12-10 lead heading into the final three minutes when the youngster arced over to secure two hard-fought points.

It was his ninth try in only seven appearances since being thrust into the Super League spotlight.

His effort at the Beaumont Stadium, in front of 4,640 fans, wasn’t as stylish as his spectacular effort against St Helens three days earlier, but this was a case of job done for the Warriors.

Easter Monday matches can often be flat, and this was no exception. Players backing up from Good Friday can be given some leeway for their errors, but the exchanges were scrappy, even if the seesawing scoring pattern in the opening half - and the lack of scoring in the second - made it strangely entertaining.

Wigan took a 12-10 lead into the dressing room thanks to tries by Sean O’Loughlin and Morgan Escare, both converted by the French full-back.

But there was no further score until Marshall took George Williams’ looping pass - touched by Ben Jones-Bishop - and crossed.

They were pushed all the way by Wakefield, who on this evidence look capable of another top-eight finish to the campaign.

As predicted, Shaun Wane rested Micky McIlorum and Joe Burgess but there was one surprise - captain O’Loughlin played, just three days after leading Wigan to a Good Friday derby triumph.

Anthony Gelling was making his 100th appearance for Wigan, while Thomas Leuluai celebrated his 200th milestone - in the city where he used to go to primary school, when dad James played at Wakefield.

Trinity, who went into the match just a point behind fourth-placed Wigan, won the corresponding fixture by a huge 62-0 last year at a time when Wane’s squad was hit by a sickness bug.

It was doubtful anyone expected a similar outcome this time, with solid, tight exchanges between the rival packs.

Wigan broke the deadlock in the seventh minute. Gelling wriggled free to set up the position for O’Loughlin to power through from close range.

Wakefield swiftly responded with a nice attack, Liam Finn’s pass to Ashley Gibson kicked on for Scott Grix to touch down. Finn was off-target with his conversion.

Wigan struggled to find a way through Wakefield’s defence, and both sides squandered half-chances as penalties continued to litter the opening half. One of them, for offside, allowed Finn to lock the scores 6-6 in the 25th minute.

And Wigan had to see out the half with only 12-men after Gelling was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on Mason Caton-Brown. He lifted the legs ot the Wakefield centre, forcing him to tumble to the ground.

Official Jack Smith, a Wiganer who took to refereeing after being medically discharged from the Royal Marines, was right to show a yellow-card.

But despite the setback, they took a 12-6 lead with their second try in the 34th minute.

Livewire Escare celebrated his new three-year deal by racing onto Williams’ sweet inside ball, and ghosting beyond a stranded Grix.

But a handling error by Ryan Sutton deep in their own half presented Trinity with a chance before the break, and Ben Jones-Bishop punished a stretched defence by diving over in the corner to cut Wigan’s lead to a slender two points.

Wakefield began the second-half with much more intent and, at the other end, their energetic defence quickly closed down the Warriors’ attacking options.

After weathering the storm, Nick Gregson’s improvised kick helped earn a repeat set on Wakefield’s line, but a Williams forward pass saw that chance fizzle out.

Wakefield, though, lost possession in their next two attacking sets, keeping the visitors in a good position and - from that stage - Powell burrowed over but was held up over the line.

Wakefield then enjoyed a wave of momentum, O’Loughlin doing well to prevent Kyle Wood from scoring - though the captain blotted his copybook with a handling error moments later.

Still, they survived and - with the game in its final 10 minutes - Marshall’s probing run at the other end raised hopes, only for the ball to squeeze from his grasp.

Wigan’s attacks were too one-out, and when they tried to put on sweeping patterns which have become their trademark, they were generally too clunky. But they persisted and, when Williams’ ball fell into Marshall’s hands, he had the pace and poise to cross and secure the two hard-fought points.

Wigan are back at home on Sunday against Catalans for a game marketed as a family fun day.

Wakefield: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Caton-Brown, Gibson, Johnstone; Miller, Finn; Huby, Wood, Allgood, Ashurst, Hadley, Arona. Subs: Hirst, England, Kirmond, Fifita.

Wigan: Escare; Davies, Gelling, Forsyth, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Flower, Powell, Tautai, Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Nuuausala, Sutton, Navarette, Gregson.

Referee: Jack Smith

Half-time: 10-12

Attendance: 4,640

Starman: Liam Farrell