Wigan 6 Huddersfield 14

Wigan's early-season misery deepened as Adrian Lam's outfit crashed to a fourth straight defeat.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 10:14 pm
Updated Friday, 5th April 2019, 3:44 pm
Wigan in action against Huddersfield

Some boos rang out at the full-time siren after another dismal performance which reaped only one try, from Morgan Escare.

After five of 29 rounds, Wigan are one of three sides tied at the bottom with just two points - how grateful they now are for the appeals decision in midweek to cancel their salary cap punishment.

Losing to St Helens and Sydney Roosters, having produced spirited performances, was one thing.

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But going down to Hull 'can't buy a win' FC, newly-promoted London Broncos and now bottom-club Huddersfield is something else.

And next up is a trip to high-flying Warrington, a game billed as a Grand Final rematch but which has taken on a completely different complexion now.

On a grim night, Gabe Hamlin was arguably Wigan's stand-out performer. Zak Hardaker and Escare both had their moments but far too many individuals were down on their own standard - and collectively, they were far too often out-of-sync.

The message from the Wigan camp during the week was that they could see positives, they just need to stitch areas together - but any early-season progress seems to have eroded.

At times, it was garbage, and while limiting opponents to try tries can be seen as a decent effort, it is little use if they can't conjure up any chances in attack.

In the last few minutes, needing to score twice, they dialed up their intent - but it was far too little, too late.

Dom Manfredi was among five changes to the side beaten 18-16 at London last weekend. Liam Marshall, Ben Flower and Hamlin also returned from injury while centre Chris Hankinson got his chance in place of Dan Sarginson (thigh).

Jarrod Sammut and Tom Davies were left out.

Wigan have been slow out of the blocks a few times this season and again, it was their opponents who showed more intent early on.

Hardaker stopped the equally fabulously-named Kruise Leeming during a period when Huddersfield forced three repeat sets in the opening 10 minutes.

And Leeming, a crafty and nippy hooker, scored the first-half's only try when he punished a flapping, splintered defence in the 12th minute. Lee Gaskell added the conversion.

There was little for the modest home crowd to cheer, but Hardaker briefly raised hopes with a 70m break.

With the ball, though, they looked flustered. Sam Powell, Sean O'Loughlin and Joe Bullock were all guilty of simple errors and when they did keep hold of the ball, they finished sets poorly, with pedestrian attacks or predictable kicks.

Their cause wasn't helped by the loss of both wingers by half-time. Marshall limped off with an injury to his left knee - the joint he damaged last summer which ended his season - while Manfredi suffered a face injury.

Wigan received a let-off when Suaia Matagi spilled the ball as he slid over the line in the 33rd minute and, with a minute to go, Gaskell sliced a drop-goal attempt wide.

Tony Clubb was forced off for a concussion assessment as Wigan showed some signs of improvement. And in the 52nd minute, they locked the scores.

After solid approach work by Hamlin and Taulima Tautai, Tommy Leuluai drilled the ball through and the alert Escare raced over under the sticks for a try which Hardaker converted.

Lam left his seat in the stands to direct traffic from the touchline and, with the fans roaring the side on, they threatened to take the lead for the first time when Bullock's storming charge took them into Giants territory but the subsequent attack broke down.

Powell became the third player to leave the action injured and if that wasn't bad enough, Wigan were reduced to 12-men for a spell after Tautai was sinbinned for kicking out. Gaskell booted the subsequent penalty to nudge the Giants 8-6 ahead by the hour-mark.

The game wasn't lost but how could they catch a break when they couldn't catch the ball? Hankinson knocked on inside his own 20m and while Wigan were fortunate that a Giants attack finished with the ball flying into touch, another attack moments later finished with Joe Wardle squeezing over. With Gaskell adding the conversion, it meant Wigan needed to score twice in the final 13 minutes to overhaul an eight-point deficit.

Hardaker and Escare added some spark to their attack and with two minutes to go, Hankinson had a try denied by the video referee.