Five things we learned from Wigan’s 26-6 win against Warrington...
1. Leicester City were Premier League champions and Obama was still president when Dom Manfredi played his previous match in August, 2016.
Last night, he made a remarkable comeback.
Remarkable, because he had been out for more than two years with successive, serious knee injuries – and at one stage was close to quitting the sport.
Remarkable, because after an impressive game – strong carries and water-tight defence – he crowned his return with two well-taken tries in the final 10 minutes...
2. His first try, especially, was an important one.
The final scoreline looks comfortable but Wigan only led by a fragile 8-6 heading into the last few minutes.
Until then, it had been a bruising, physical contest, low on attacking quality but high on effort and endeavour.
Once Manfredi put Wigan into an eight-point lead, the Wolves wilted; the winger crossed again before Ryan Sutton had the final say in a frenzied finish.
3. There was mitigation for the scrappy patches - in the fifth meeting between these sides this year.
Warrington had several players rested or ruled out, Wigan’s pack missed four of its best players (O’Loughlin, Flower, Greenwood, Farrell) and the three-quarters line not only had Manfredi back, but Oliver Gildart started at right centre for the first time – and Tom Davies likewise on the left wing.
Both sides also had a player each sin-binned – Sam Tomkins for dissent, and Tom Lineham for a swinging arm.
4. Players around the clubs have received their voting forms for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel.
Will John Bateman make the three-man shortlist?
His form has been excellent all year, and the Canberra-bound forward was outstanding against the Wolves. He wasn’t the only one.
Thomas Leuluai was hugely-influential in the halfback role – despite dislocating a finger scoring his first-half try – and Dan Sarginson got the club’s man of the match in his 100th game for the club while, up front, Tony Clubb was a dominant figure.
5. This was Wigan’s sixth straight victory including a perfect five from five in the Super-8s.
Had they lost, their lead on third-placed Castleford would have been cut to one point with two matches to go.
But the victory ensured they kept a three-point cushion, putting them on course for a second-spot finish and a home semi-final against the Tigers. They head to Huddersfield next Thursday before hosting Hull FC eight days later.
Warrington, meanwhile, are on course for a fourth-placed finish - which would send them to St Helens in the semis.