Five things we learned from Wigan’s first defeat of the Super League campaign, going down 16-10 at Warrington...
1. Warrington played very well and deserved the win - but in truth, they didn’t have too much to beat.
Wigan were second-best in several areas and on top of that, compounded their misery with errors and penalties.
At times, they struggled to get out of their half. At times, they struggled to hold on to the ball and - when they were in good positions and pulled the trigger - their attacks stuttered, either with poor passes or kicks.
They deserve some credit for scrambling well and limiting the damage - but both coaches agreed Wire were much more than six points better than the visitors.
2. Wigan looked weary and jaded from the start but Shaun Wane was adamant travel wasn’t a contributing factor to their performance.
Not everyone was as convinced, given the Warriors played in Sydney six days earlier and only arrived back in England on Monday.
And former player Garreth Carvell used the short-turnaround to support his case to create a players’ union.
“I don’t think Wigan should have been made to play on a Friday after landing from Australia on Monday,” he tweeted. “Above anything it’s a player welfare issue. These things need to be considered by the RFL and is exactly why I’m so passionate about a players’ union.”
3. Liam Marshall must enjoy playing against Warrington.
His try just after the hour-mark was his ninth in five games against this opposition and it gave his side faint hope of a comeback.
With Joe Burgess fit and available, it remains to be seen whether Marshall did enough to cling onto his spot for Friday’s home match with Widnes.
Wane has real competition for places for wing spots; a shame he doesn’t have the same congestion at centre, where John Bateman covered for the injured Dan Sarginson.
4. Several Wigan fans were critical of referee Ben Thaler.
Wane didn’t echo their remarks but, interestingly, did say his players should have been ‘smarter’ and adjusted to the way the official polices the ruck.
The speed in which a tackled player can get to his feet and play-the-ball has a huge influence on the game.
Wane said they were “butchered on the floor”, suggesting Thaler was more lenient to holding down than other referees.
“I’m not blaming him, at all, but the fact is - if you count it, from contact to play-the-ball...the speeds were different,” he said.
“We always get that when he referees. We’ve had that in the past, and so we need to be smarter and (adapt) to it. That’s our fault.”
5. What about Warrington?
Some were quick to write them off after they lost their first two matches but they have turned around their fortunes.
Australian halfback Tyrone Roberts appears to be settling in, though it was a player from much closer to home, Wiganer Stefan Ratchford, who really caught the eye.
It is too early to say whether this year will be their year, but they are showing progress under coach Steve Price, and appear to have the personnel to have a decent crack.
Fans from all clubs will hope Ben Currie is not facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. He left the action in the 22nd minute after injuring the same knee which he needed major surgery on in 2016, ruling him out for nearly a year.
“Fingers crossed for a bit of luck,” the England World Cup forward tweeted.