Warrington Wolves 26 Wigan Warriors 24: Five things we learned

Thomas Leuluai stood out for Wigan
Thomas Leuluai stood out for Wigan

Five things we learned from Wigan's 26-24 Challenge Cup defeat at Warrington...

1. What a game!

The BBC picked an absolute thriller to televise yesterday.

Yes, Wigan crashed out of the Challenge Cup - inevitably there was disappointment.

But if you couldn't appreciate such a full-blooded, full-throttled, seesawing contest for what it was, maybe rugby league is not for you. Respect to all players.

2. "If this is no try, I quit coming to watch rugby league matches."

Summariser Jon Wilkin and his BBC colleagues didn't hold back in their assessment of Robert Hicks' decision to scrub Dan Sarginson's 12th minute try, because of a knock-on by Thomas Leuluai.

And Warriors' executive director Kris Radlinski later said rugby league is shooting itself in the foot with such forensic scrutiny by video referees - at a time when the sport is trying to secure a new TV deal.

Leuluai himself stressed Wigan weren't playing the 'we were robbed' card, and said they had plenty of other chances to win the game if they had played better. On that point...

3. Adrian Lam thought Wigan did enough to win but in hindsight, he will lament the errors which ultimately came back to bite.

They tidied up their play in the second-half but as they tired in the heat and intensity of the contest, those errors resurfaced late on and repeatedly let the Wolves off the hook.

You think of Zak Hardaker's failure to find touch with a penalty, spills by Liam Marshall and Romain Navarrete, Joe Burgess' failure to collect Oliver Gildart's late pass, and you wonder how different it could have been.

4. Yet despite those mistakes, this was a performance which suggested Wigan have arrived.

We all know what a rocky season it has been but they appear to be making strides... with plenty of improvement still in them.

If they performed like that against most sides, they would win - and if they can replicate it in their Super League campaign then they should soon be climbing the table.

5. Finally, a lot is often said about Wigan's youngsters coming through, but what about the old guard?

Thomas Leuluai, 33, was widely praised for his bone-jarring shot on Blake Austin - despite his 'knock-on' - and was a dominant figure throughout, playing in the halfback role.

And captain Sean O'Loughlin, 36, came off the bench and added width and class to their attack, while also motoring through the tough stuff in the middle.