Wakefield Wildcats 23 Wigan Warriors 36

Wigan Warriors' Josh Charnley scores a try under pressure from Wakefield Wildcats' Lucas Walshaw
Wigan Warriors' Josh Charnley scores a try under pressure from Wakefield Wildcats' Lucas Walshaw
Share this article

WIGAN survived a huge scare at Wakefield before finally securing their 12th straight victory.

Shaun Wane’s men were trailing heading into the final 10 minutes, behind 23-22 after a largely lethargic, error-strewn display.

But a stunning Matty Smith 40-20 triggered a late revival, and tries by Lee Mossop and Darrell Goulding secured a gutsy win which extended their lead at the top of the table to five points.

Josh Charnley finished the game with a hat-trick but Sam Tomkins failed to get over the whitewash, keeping him level with Martin Offiah and Steve Ella in the record books for scoring tries in 11 consecutive matches.

Wigan, who eased to a 44-24 win earlier in the season, hardly needed to break sweat as they strolled into a 10-0 lead early on, and everything seemed to be going to plan.

Josh Charnley raced over for his first try in the sixth minute from a trademark crisp passing exchange, Pat Richards adding the extras, and grabbed his second in the 14th minute.

But just when it all appeared to be going to plan, Wigan’s sleepy defence leaked two tries in quick succession.

Dean Collis sliced beyond Iain Thornley to touch down. Lee Smith’s conversion pegged the Warriors’ lead back to just four points.

And minutes later Danny Kirmond charged over, with Thornley again looking vulnerable in defence - little surprise Wane hooked him from the pitch and gave Rhodri Lloyd his first appearance of the year.

When stand-in captain Tomkins was penalised for back-chat at referee Thierry Alibert, the home side marched down field to score their third try when Kyle Wood slipped beyond Harrison Hansen.

Tuson again coughed up possession in a good position and, just when it appeared Wigan would wind down the clock until half-time, Wakefield nosed further in front when Lee Smith struck a monster, 40m drop-goal as the siren rang out.

Whatever Wane said to his players at half-time had an instant impact, as within less than a minute into the restart Hansen had charged over for a converted try which closed the margin to just one point.

But the home side sniffed an upset, and with wrecking-ball Taulima Tautai causing the damage, Kirmond’s angled charge took him past the out-grasped arm of Sam Powell for his second - and Wakefield’s fourth - try.

Smith’s conversion reopened a seven-point lead at 23-16.

Wakefield, for all their purpose, seemed determined to feed their opponents chances with a catalogue of errors. And when Wood kicked out on the full, Wane’s men finally took advantage, working the ball out to Charnley’s edge and the winger bravely dived over for his hat-trick try under a congested defence.

Richards’ goal closed the score again to just one point. In the 71st minute, Mossop powered over from short-range for his second try of the campaign.

Richards’ goal opened up a five-point margin and, when Justin Poore - sent off in the reverse fixture earlier this year - was penalised for holding down, the Aussie winger struck from 40m out to extend their advantage to 30-23.

With that kick opening up a two-score lead, Wakefield’s heads dipped, allowing Goulding to add a try which gave the final scoreline a deceptively flattering complexion.

Wakefield: Mathers; Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne; Smith, Wood; Poore, Wildie, Wilkes, Kirmond, Walshaw, Tautai. Subs: Molloy, Washbrook, Amor, Annakin.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Powell, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Farrell, Burke. Subs: Lloyd, Tuson, Taylor, L Tomkins.

Referee: T Alibert

Half-time: 17-10

Attendance: 8,458

Starman: Darrell Goulding