A FIRST half hat-trick from Josh Charnley signalled Wigan Warriors were back to their old selves as they took one more step towards bringing the Challenge Cup home for a 19th time.
All that stands between the Warriors and a record-extending 30th Challenge Cup final is a semi-final date with the London Broncos at Leigh in two weeks’ time after they despatched Widnes Vikings 48-4
The return of headliners Sam Tomkins, Lee Mossop and Sean O’Loughlin gave Wigan an obvious boost as they ruthlessly blew away the cobwebs of their recent form.
The Vikings’ start was spirited, initiated when Patrick Ah Van broke through in the first minute, only for referee Ben Thaler to bring play back for a Wigan knock-on.
But the tide soon turned as Anthony Gelling, sporting a new mohican, ripped through the Vikings’ line three minutes later, requiring a brave Rhys Hanbury effort to bring him down on the tryline.
Within 20 minutes the Warriors were 24-0 up and the game was as good as done.
Charnley’s first came in the ninth minute after video referee Richard Silverwood looked at a case for a Matty Smith knock-on as he brought Hanbury down but saw no problem to signal the first Wigan try.
Four minutes later, Charnley had doubled his and Wigan’s tally as he beat Joe Mellor to a pass which had hit the deck.
But the true magic was performed by O’Loughlin and Green as they combined seamlessly to put Tomkins over on his return to action.
The Vikings did post points with a Patrick Ah Van try after 33 minutes but its impact was hardly felt as a Matty Smith try and Charnley’s third sandwiched the score.
The second half kicked off with the question ‘how many?’ as Liam Farrell scored in the first set.
Pat Richards’ kick-off was thought to have gone out on the full but play was brought back for a Widnes drop-out which invited Wigan to stretch their lead.
Denis Betts’ men did manage to stem the tide when Tomkins and O’Loughlin were brought off in preparation of next Monday’s derby at St Helens.
But Ryan Hampshire latched on to a halfback-like pass from Gil Dudson to post a further Wigan try on the hour.
Widnes’ poor passing gifted Wigan another try as Green scooped up the ball from the deck to bring the score closer to the 64-10 margin when the sides last met in the Cup in 2010.
But they were to be the final points in a businesslike Warriors performance.
Wigan Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Anthony Gelling, Pat Richards, Blake Green, Matty Smith, Lee Mossop, Michael McIlorum, Gil Dudson, Harrison Hansen, Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin
Replacements: Chris Tuson, Dom Crosby, Greg Burke, Ryan Hampshire
Widnes Vikings: Rhys Hanbury, Jack Owens, Stefan Marsh, Cameron Phelps, Patrick Ah Van, Kevin Brown, Joe Mellor, Eamon O’Carroll, Jon Clarke, Alex Gerrard, Macgraff Leuluai, Frank Winterstein, Hep Cahill
Replacements: Adam Lawton, Grant Gore, Ben Kavanagh, Phil Joseph
Tries: Charnley 3, Tomkins, Smith, Farrell, Hampshire, Green
Goals: Richards 8
Try: Ah Van
Referee: Ben Thaler