Wakefield Trinity 16 Wigan Warriors 24: Five things we learned
Five things we learned from Wigan's 24-16 win at Wakefield...
1. Was the theme for this round 'ref-bashing'?
Two days after the stinging criticism of Robert Hicks by St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus, Trinity coach Chris Chester lashed out at a "disgraceful call" from the officials for allowing Liam Marshall's hat-trick try.
The winger defused a kick and raced to take a 20m tap restart, but wasn't on the centre mark. Referee Scott Mikalauskas allowed play on and Marshall blazed through a slack defence to score his third try and put Wigan into a lead they would never surrender.
"I don't know whether the rules have changed but that's just a disgraceful call... there's a line there to tell you where to tap the ball," said Chester.
"I can cop a player being a metre away from the centre, but when you're talking six or seven metres... I don't know how many officials we have, but they let Liam Marshall tap it where he wants."
Video highlights of the game confirm Marshall wasn't on the centre mark and the officials made a mistake - like many of the players made throughout the match.
They also cast doubts over the legitimacy of at least one of Wakefield's tries, which may have gone to the big screen if the game was televised - incidents not flagged up by Chester in his post-match press conference.
2. The knives were out for Adrian Lam after a turbulent start to his Wigan coaching career.
They won just three of their first 11 matches and by the end of May, were in 9th position.
Now, they have won 10 of their last 11 and are second in the table - two points clear of the chasing pack.It is a remarkable turnaround, not least because Lam has had other distractions - on and off the pitch - to contend with along the way.
3. To the match, and it was not a classic.
Some sizzling tries, a tight scoreline and a thrilling finish - Sam Powell settled the outcome in the final minute - didn't quite compensate for the number of errors made from both sides.
The most pleasing part of the spectacle was the physicality of the exchanges down the middle, with Wakefield's forwards aggressive from the start and, for Wigan, Tony Clubb and Ollie Partington leading the Warriors' defensive effort.
In fairness, Wigan have often found it difficult at Trinity, and claiming any win should be welcomed, particularly as it proved so significant in the jostle for top-five positions.
4. Morgan Escare was allowed to face his parent club and was at the heart of Wakefield's best attacks.
He sparked an attack which led to a stylish try for Jacob Miller which helped make it 12-12 at half-time, and a well-placed grubber created their third, for Ben Jones-Bishop. The Frenchman has two more games of his loan stint at Trinity - will the Frenchman, under contract for 2020, then return to the Wigan camp for the play-offs charge?
5. Looking ahead, Wigan now have two home games to tighten their grip on second spot.
They host Catalans and Castleford on successive Fridays and while they will be strongly-fancied to win, both their opponents are scrapping for play-offs positions.
If Lam's men do slip up and lose a game, then three sides are trailing by two points. Warrington
have yet to play Wakefield (h) and Leeds (a), Salford take on Leeds (a) and Hull KR (h) while Hull FC finish the campaign against Castleford (a) and St Helens (h).
Second spot would ensure Wigan have a home match in the opening weekend of the play-offs against the team finishing third; victory would send them to St Helens to battle for a Grand Final spot, while they would have the safety net of a second chance if they lost.