Wakefield 62 Wigan 0

Wigan Warriors look dejected after another Wakefield try
Wigan Warriors look dejected after another Wakefield try

Wigan were left humiliated after crashing to their heaviest league defeat in more than a decade.

They may have been missing 10 frontline players but by any measure, this was an embarrassing - and unexpected - performance.

The Warriors leaked 11 tries including a hat-trick by stand-off Jacob Miller, going down to their heaviest Super League loss since the 70-0 thrashing against Leeds in 2005.

It was an embarrassingly soft display by Wigan.

Their attack has misfired for most of the year but their defensive grit has normally served them well. Not this time - they were cut to part with seeming ease by a home side showing much more style and swagger.

If this was the worst Wigan had played in a long time, this was the best Wakefield had played in... ever?

They became the first side to beat the Warriors on the road this year, and the victory not only lifted them to the brink of the top-eight, but swelled their hopes of staying there.

Wigan did have their chances on their hosts’ line, particularly in the first-half, but they sorely lacked a spark to crack open a spirited defence.

At the other end, they melted under a Wildcats onslaught to finish the game with their reputations severely bruised.

If they looked disjointed, it was because they were.

Shaun Wane was missing 10 frontline players, with Sean O’Loughlin, Dom Manfredi and suspended Liam Farrell absent from the side which went down 28-16 to Warrington a week ago.

While the coach said he wouldn’t be seeking excuses for a poor display, he had to delve deep into his reserves with a side featuring three teenagers including debutants Joe Bretherton and Jack Wells. That took the number of academy graduates breaking into the side this year to five (by contrast, there was just one last season in Oliver Gildart).

Faced with such adversity, a defeat was not a shock - but the scoreline was.

Few players impressed in a well-beaten side, Greg Burke arguably the pick of the bunch, and Wane will be grateful he will be able to drip-feed players into his side over the next two weeks as they return from injuries.

Wakefield had won their last three games under new coach Chris Chester, with winger Tom Johnstone earning widespread plaudits for five tries in his last two home games. He made his presence felt early with a stinging tackle on centre Jack Higginson, and the set finished with Wigan caught in possession near the halfway line.

From that sin, the Wildcats made the visitors pay when Nick Scruton charged on to Scott Moore’s pass, Liam Finn’s first of three first-half conversions making it 6-0.

Matty Smith attempted to boss the side but his last-play kicking was pedestrian and caused the home side few troubles.

Joel Tomkins took the sting out of a threat with a terrific tackle on Max Jowitt, following neat work by Johnstone in the build-up.

But Wakefield earned a repeat set and their enterprising attack paid off when Miller crossed. The Australian stand-off turned provider in the 28th minute when his shallow angled kick was collected by Johnstone, and he muscled beyond Lewis Tierney to make it 18-0.

Bretherton - a towering, rangy prop - and compact back-rower Wells both came off the bench for their debuts.

They were unable to slow Wakefield’s momentum, as another entertaining passage saw Miller cross for his second after good approach work by the lively Scott Moore and Johnstone.

Wigan had a chance to open their scoring before half-time but once again they looked devoid of ideas.

And that trend continued into the second period as Wakefield swept over for seven further tries.

Miller’s 40-20 put the Warriors on the back foot and Finn punished some soft line defence with a try he converted in the 48th minute.

And Miller completed his hat-trick in the 52nd minute when Wakefield were quickest to react to Smith’s knock-on.

Wigan went from bad to worse, dropping off tackles at an alarming rate, as Danny Kirmond crossed for two. Josh Charnley atoned for an earlier spill with a great tackle to deny Miller a fourth try, but that only slowed the damage as Ben Jones-Bishop, Jowitt and Scruton piled on further tries.