Warrington 30 Wigan 10

Lee Mossop in action at Warrington
Lee Mossop in action at Warrington

A WOEFUL display from Wigan saw them deservedly pegged back at the top of the Super League ladder as Warrington ran riot.

Victory would have virtually secured the League Leaders Shield for Shaun Wane’s men with three rounds remaining.

But, virtually to a man, they under-performed as the Wolves reduced their lead to one point and all now to play for.

Wigan were 12-0 down with less than eight minutes on the clock, and although Gareth Hock’s try gave them hope, they were fortunate to trail by only 10 points at the break.

A couple more tries strengthened Warrngton’s superiority and, despite a decent try from Iain Thornley, they were well-beaten in the end.

Top spot is still in their own hands, but Wane will be acutely aware it will require vast improvement across the board to make it happen.

The Wigan coach had sprung a major selection surprise by recalling Brett Finch, who hadn’t been named in the 19-man squad but was forced into service because of an 11th-hour injury sustained by rookie Sam Powell.

But the Australian half-back had a forgettable opening to the game, seeing his slack pass go to ground and recovered by Lee Briers.

The Warrington stand-off raced half the length of the field before being chased down by George Carmont 10 yards short of the line.

However, Wigan couldn’t get their defensive line back quickly enough and Ben Westwood crashed over from the play-the-ball.

Worse was to follow shortly after, when Chris Hill bounced off the challenge of Lee Mossop to put Ben Harrison over by the posts.

Two goals from Brett Hodgson made it 12-0, and Wigan were struggling to get their hands on the ball.

The visitors were so far off the pace inside the opening quarter it was untrue, uncharacteristic errors from senior players being compounded by a lop-sided penalty count.

An ill-advised offload from Hock presented Warrington with more ball on halfway, and only a knock-on from Joel Monaghan in the act of scoring prevented further damage.

The respite, though, was only temporary, as a second knock-on in quick succession from Mike McIlorum handed the ball straight back to the home side.

And from Wigan’s next set a pass from Harrison Hansen was picked off by Chris Riley who streaked away under the posts.

However, the touchdown was chalked off after the video referee spotted a clear knock-on by Ryan Atkins as he attempted to tackle Hansen.

Wigan forced a repeat set with virtually their first visit into the Warrington 20-metre zone when Sean O’Loughlin trapped Richie Myler behind his own tryline after a cracking chase.

But a careless forward pass from Matty Smith gave the initiative straight back, and another penalty gifted the Wolves a piggy-back to halfway.

This time the defence held firm, and Warrington made rare mistake inside their own half that saw Carmont recover the ball on the home 30-metre line.

A repeat set resulted after Bries was penalised for offside, and Hock crashed over to the delight of the cherry and white army behind the posts.

Josh Charnley’s conversion reduced the arrears to six points, when the game could easily have been dead and buried.

But a poor ball from Finch surrendered the ball back from the kick-off, and Monaghan went over in the far corner off a long ball from Myler.

Finch was furiously trying to persuade both referee Steve Ganson and the touch judge that the final pass was illegal, and indeed TV replays showed the ball was fully five metres forward.

Thankfully the conversion was missed, and the reality was that Wigan would have been happy to get back into the sheds with only a 10-point deficit.

Warrington were awarded a penalty within two minutes of the restart, and a few eyebrows were raised when Hodgson opted for a shot at goal from 30 metres out.

The kick was true and the score was edged out to 18-6, and it was nearly worse when Trent Waterhouse walked over in the left-hand corner.

This time Ganson was quick to award a forward pass from Riley and, although it was nowhere near as bad as the one he’d missed in the first half, it was gratefully received.

Wigan took advantage and, after Westwood was penalised for roughing-up Hock, Charnley thought he’d got the ball down inches inside the touchline.

However, the video referee spotted Charnley’s foot had grazed the whitewash just before he grounded and ‘no try’ was the correct call.

And the game was pretty much put beyond Wigan’s grasp 15 minutes into the second period when Smith’s kick was collected by Stefan Ratchford on his own 20-metre line.

The Wigan-born centre pinned his ears back and raced 80 metres to score, despite a spirited chase from Hock and McIlorum.

Warrington failed to find touch with a penalty awarded on their next set, and Wigan made them pay when quick hands from Tomkins and Carmont put Thornley over.

Charnley, though, couldn’t goal and Wigan trailed 24-10 at the three-quarter mark.

There was unquestionably still time for the visitors to hit back, but given the way they were playing you wouldn’t have wagered much on them doing it.

Warrington thought they were in again when Monaghan was brought back for an earlier infringement, but the scoreline was given a far more realistic look with 12 minutes left when Myler went over for his side’s fifth try with Hodgson again converting.

And only a fantastic chase-back from Tomkins prevented ex-Warrior Micky Higham rubbing salt into the wounds in the dying stages.

Warrington: Hodgson; Riley, Atkins, Ratchford, J Monaghan; Briers, Myler; Morley, Higham, Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison. Subs: M Monaghan, Carvell, Grix, Wood.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Thornley; Finch, Smith; Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, O’Loughlin. Subs: Hughes, Prescott, Lima, Farrell.

Star Man: George Carmont