Wigan 26 Castleford 12

Josh Charnley scored two first-half tries
Josh Charnley scored two first-half tries
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Josh Charnley’s two tries helped propel Wigan to within 80 minutes of Wembley.

Shaun Wane’s Warriors marked their return to the DW Stadium after five weeks on the road with a straight-forward and comfortable win in the Challenge Cup quarter-final.

In a performance checklist they were assured in many areas in the opening half - when they established a 22-0 lead - but they faded after the break.

Dan Sarginson, Sam Tomkins and Dom Manfredi also crossed for tries, while Matty Smith kicked three goals from five attempts.

Since winning the Challenge Cup in 2013, Wigan have failed to reach the semi-final stage with defeats to eventual finalists Castleford and Hull KR.

Wane said those losses had generated an “anger” among his players, and that seemed evident during a quick-tempoed start.

Wigan lost Dom Crosby and Anthony Gelling from the side which beat Widnes 7-0, but they were still in credit on the injuries front, thanks to the return of England internationals Sean O’Loughlin, George Williams and the Tomkins brothers, Sam and Joel.

The latter was making his 200th game for his hometown club, and carried his daughter onto the pitch as the teams emerged into the late afternoon sunshine.

Castleford - well-backed by a strong travelling support - made a late change to the named team, with Greg Minikin replacing Jake Webster after the Kiwi pulled-up in warm-up.

Wigan’s composed first-half display was among their better performances this year. Castleford’s few chances were quickly-extinguished by an energetic, aggressive defensive effort.

And with the ball, they looked smart, selfless and slick, opening up a deserved 22-0 lead.

O’Loughlin underlined his value to the side frequently, and sent Ryan Sutton on a break which led to Sarginson’s opener.

Wigan maintained their tempo, and when Sam Tomkins shrugged off Grant Millington to cross it put them 12-0 ahead - and triggered a spontanious chorus of “Sam will tear you apart, again”.

Castleford persisted and Denny Solomona, Super League’s leading tryscorer, went close in the 20th minute. A clash of heads between Mandredi and Luke Dorn in the build-up earned Cas’ a penalty, and another crack - and then another - but they were harrassed into making a mistake by a tigerish defence.

Among those to impress were the energetic Willie Isa and Welsh prop Ben Flower, who was only playing after successfully appealing a suspension.

Wigan added two further tries before the break.

Taulima Tautai’s surging break set up the position for Charnley to muscle over from close-range. And with Wigan growing in strength and swagger, Charnley latched on to Williams’ cutout pass and dived over in the corner - arm outstretched - to make it 22-0.

The second-half started shaky, and Sutton’s loss to a head injury forced Joel Tomkins to return to his former spot in the second-row - he has been playing in the middle as he nurses a knee injury.

But they had enough grit and spirit to repel the Tigers’ attempted fightback until the hour-mark, when Luke Gale dashed through a splintered defence for a try he converted, cutting the margin to 16-points.

That try seemed to act as a warning shot to Wigan, who dialed up their intensity to allow Manfredi to score - though even he looked surprised the video referee gave his grounding the green-light.

Ben Crooks added a late try for the visitors, but it proved scant consolation.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Sarginson, Gildart, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Mossop, Powell, Flower, Sutton, Isa, O’Loughlin. Subs: J Tomkins, Tautai, Burke, Bretherton.

Castleford: Dorn; Monaghan, Crooks, Minikin, Solomona; Millington, Gale; Jewitt, McShane, Patrick, Moors, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Milner, Tickle, Holmes, Cook.

Half-time: 22-0

Referee: Chris Campbell