Warrington Wolves 25 Wigan Warriors 12: Five things we learned
Five things we learned from Wigan's 25-12 defeat at Warrington...
1. The Super League kicked-off at the end of January. Now, in mid-March, and Wigan, Leeds and Huddersfield occupy the bottom three spots - all on two points each.
The Rhinos, who lost at home to London last night, have played an extra game.
For the Warriors, this was a fourth successive Super League loss, following defeats to Hull FC, London and Huddersfield. In the context of that poor run of results, it was another blow.
But, in isolation...
2. This was a much more spirited performance.
You can point out Wigan made the same sins - too many errors, too many penalties, little invention on their opponents' line. But you can't say Wigan didn't have a dig.
They battled back from 18-0 down to close the margin to six points and Adrian Lam pointed out that, had the penalty after the melee gone in their favour, they would have been attacking an 11-man Wire line with seven minutes to go.
Instead, Wolves marched down field and Jack Hughes made the contest safe.
But Lam - embarrassed a week earlier - was a proud coach afterwards. He reckons this could be a turning point. We'll know if he's right when Wigan travel to Salford next Sunday.
3. There was 'bad blood', as advertised, and the match review panel will be busy on Monday.
Three players were sinbinned (Dan Sarginson, Willie Isa, Dec Patton), Wigan were pinged for a couple of high tackles, and Ben Westwood was sent off for a headbutt on Morgan Escare.
Joe Greenwood was placed on report for an off-the-ball challenge on Blake Austin - some say he stood his ground, some say it was a shocker.
The loss of Greenwood, who limped off, would be a blow - but could be off-set by the return from injury of Ben Flower, Dom Manfredi and - after a long spell out - Joe Burgess.
4. One positive for Wigan was the return of Jake Shorrocks from the bench.
He played a key role in Wigan's 2016 Grand Final charge but, in his first match the following year, suffered a season-ending knee injury.
He struggled to find his feet again last year - the absence of a reserves didn't help - but has impressed Lam in training, and got his chance with 25 minutes to go.
He even provided the assist for Wigan's second try, dribbling through a kick for Tom Davies.
5. A tip of the hat to Warrington, not only for hyping the game up, but delivering with the match experience, too.
And on the field, they set the bar which Wigan need to aspire to in terms of ball control, discipline and executing their plays.
A lot is said about other clubs' overseas recruits - and Austin is a superb recruit - but what about the Wiganers? Ex-Golborne Parkside junior Ben Currie is a classy forward, while ex-St Pats amateur Stefan Ratchford had a great game.