Wigan Warriors 30 Wakefield Trinity 18

Joe Burgess scores against Wakefield
Joe Burgess scores against Wakefield

Joe Burgess registered a hat-trick as Wigan claimed another solid victory - and inflicted the first defeat of the season on Wakefield.

This was the Warriors’ fourth win from five games, and moved them to joint-second in the embryonic Super League table.

In the build-up, Tony Clubb had described Wigan at being “at 60 per cent” because of their patchy performances this season.

Given the scoreline and the quality of the opposition, this scaled higher than that - but it was a similar kind of game.

They spluttered their way through the first-half, in which they trailed 12-10, but finished with a flourish.

Burgess’ treble provided the obvious talking point but Sean O’Loughlin and Sam Tomkins had some sparkling touches in the polished attacking sequences of the second-half, and Willie Isa produced one of his best performances for the club.

They were good value for the win, their strong finish ensured the home fans in the 11,000-plus crowd went home happy - and their improving form will give them confidence ahead of next week’s trip to Castleford.

Wigan had gone into the game as favourites with the bookmakers, despite Wakefield’s better start to the season.

Wane made just one change to the side which beat Widnes 32-16 a week ago, with Frenchman Romain Navarrete replacing injured Joel Tomkins.

Navarrete finished last season on loan at Catalans but has impressed Wane since his return with his attitude and no-nonsense approach.

Wigan looked good, in flashes, in the first-half - but in between were a number of errors which often undid their own good work.

Twice they were penalised for obstruction in possession, twice they passed the ball into touch, once they went into touch - it made for frustrating viewing as they went into the changing rooms 12-10 down.

In the second minute, for example, the usually-impeccable Tom Davies spilled Tomkins’ pass at the start of a set, and Trinity made the most of the unexpected possession by swinging the ball to the right for Ben Jones Bishop to dive over.

Wigan’s left-side can be lethal when they click, but they spluttered when the ball went that way and the right edge didn’t fare much better. Liam Finn struck a 10th minute penalty to give them a 6-0 lead.

With Ben Flower and Tony Clubb dominant down the middle, they at least nullified the threat of Trinity’s powerful pack. And in the 17th minute, Wigan got off the mark when Burgess - again preferred to Liam Marshall - pounced down the short-side.

Tomkins missed with his conversion attempt.

Taulima Tautai was introduced from the bench for his 100th appearance for Wigan - and he marked the occasion with a short-range try against the club where he started his Super League career.

Morgan Escare - who played in the halves, rather than at full-back - tagged on the extras, giving them a 10-6 lead. George Williams broke through but was hauled back and penalised for obstruction and - from the turnover - Trinity eventually locked the scores through Jones-Bishop. Liam Finn’s conversion put them 12-10 ahead at the break.

The home fans could take comfort from the fact the Warriors have played well in one half of most, if not all, of their matches so far this season. And from the restart, they showed clear signs of improvement, playing with more intent and attacking with more precision.

A wonderful, quick pass by Tomkins sent Burgess over for his second try - the former tagged on the extras to make it 16-12.

Trinity were too good to fade away, and moments later only a forward pass denied Jones-Bishop a hat-trick. Wigan, though, were appearing the more dominant and after muscling their way down the pitch, O’Loughlin and Tomkins slickly combined to send Davies diving over in the corner.

The try was given the nod by in-goal referee Tara Jones - the first woman to officiate in a Super League game - and with Tomkins arrowing over the touchline conversion, it opened up a 10-point gap before the hour-mark.

Wigan were growing in strength and confidence, Burgess powering over through a crowded defence to complete his hat-trick. Tomkins again converted to make it 28-12.

The game turned niggly in the closing stages, with Clubb’s seemingly-high challenge on Jacob Miller triggering an all-in shoving competition. Tinirau Arona crossed from short-range for a try which Finn converted, cutting the margin to 10 points and giving the final six minutes a nervous edge.

Escare thought he had added the French polish, only to have a try ruled out for offside. But Trinity failed to find touch from the resulting penalty and, when the visitors were penalised for a tackle infringement, Tomkins struck the goal to secure the win.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Davies, Bateman, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Powell; Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Sutton, Tautai, Escare, Navarrete.

Wakefield: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Finn; England, Wood, Fifita, Ashurst, Kirmond, Arona. Subs: Huby, Randell, Horo, Hurst.

Referee: Chris Kendall

Half-time: 10-12

Attendance: 11,455

Starman: Sam Tomkins