Widnes Vikings 22 Wigan Warriors 22

Shaun Wane
Shaun Wane

SHAUN Wane blamed Wigan’s “dumb” approach for throwing away a comfortable lead against 12-man Widnes.

The Warriors led 16-0 shortly after Patrick Ah Van was shown a red card in the 23rd minute for a high shot on Josh Charnley.

But from that stage on, the Vikings outscored the visitors four tries to one to grab a dramatic 22-22 draw and ensure the new Super League season got off to a thrilling start for the neutral - if unsatisfactory for the Warriors camp.

Wane denied they took the foot off the gas once Ah Van was dismissed, instead cursing their indiscipline - and failure to finish their chances - for not putting the game to bed.

“We needed to be squeeky clean, and we weren’t,” said Wane, who described the draw as feeling like a loss.

“Things weren’t going to go our way. We gave away eight penalties in the second half and, right or wrong, we invited them into the areas where they can score.

“We were dumb.”

Wane admitted some of the mistakes may have been down to opening day rustiness, but was showing little leniency for their failure to rack up more points.

Winger Joe Burgess was guilty of bombing the most glaring scoring opportunity but there were several stages when Wigan failed to turn the screw.

“You’ll maybe see a few odd performances this weekend, it’s always tough to deal with,” he said.

“If you blow three or four chances to score, you’re inviting to be burned. We have to score them in these games, it’s as simple as that.

“I do want to give the players praise for some of the things we did, but we went away from our game-plan. We were good at times, but we need to be consistent for 80 minutes.”

Wane revealed Micky McIlorum missed out with a minor hand injury, while Charnley was “in a bad way” after the challenge by Ah Van.

Widnes coach Denis Betts had no qualms about James Child’s decision to dismiss Widnes’ Kiwi winger.

“It was a red card, he made contact with his head,” said the Wigan legend. “It was clumsy and it wasn’t malicious. But an attack to the head, I think we’ve got to get rid of it. And I’d hope I’d still be saying the same thing if we’d lost.”

Wigan led 16-0 shortly after Ah Van’s dismissal, courtesy of Anthony Gelling’s double and an opener from Joel Tomkins.

They appeared to be on course for a comfortable win and, even after an early exchange of tries in the second-half, the Warriors looked comfortable with a 22-12 lead.

But their failure to take their chances - and deal with a spirited Widnes side - came to bite them as they leaked tries to Cameron Phelps and Chris Dean in a dramatic final quarter.

Widnes also lost captain Kevin Brown to a first-half injury after a bone-jarring shot by Ryan Sutton - “I don’t think he’ll throw a dummy on Sutton again,” joked Betts.

Both sides finished the game with 12-men each - halfback Matty Smith was sinbinned for dissent in the final minute.

The 9,286 crowd marked Widnes’ biggest in a decade, and Betts added: “It was a great start, and great for TV.”