Wigan suffered their third straight Super League defeat, losing 27-10 against Castleford Tigers at the DW Stadium on Thursday.
The result moves Daryl Powell’s men two points clear at the top of the Super League table and they are favourites for both the regular season title and the Grand Final at http://openodds.com.
Greg Minikin, who has scored nine tries this season, was back in the side after injuring his shoulder during the Tigers’ only defeat of the season against Salford last month.
Three other changes came in the pack as Nathan Massey, Matt Cook and Oliver Holmes were preferred over Jesse Sene-Lefao, Junior Moors and Grant Millington.
Joel Monaghan was brought in as a last-minute replacement after Michael Shenton was injured in the warm-up.
Ryan Sutton was preferred to Tony Clubb at loose forward for the Warriors, while Liam Farrell returned to the back row after missing the past three matches because of a calf problem.
Willie Isa was moved into the centres in place of Oliver Gildart, who was recently ruled out for around three months with a back injury after being hurt by a crusher tackle from Leeds’ Brett Ferres last week.
After a tense opening quarter, Jake Webster broke the deadlock diving over in the 24th minute after Ben Roberts’ pass. Luke Gale nailed the conversion to put the Tigers 6-0 ahead.
The game suddenly sprung into life as Gale crossed over to score a second Cas try in as many minutes after a good offload from Roberts.
Wigan continued to slip further behind after Gale slotted a penalty between the sticks to give the visitors a 14-0 lead with eight minutes until the interval.
Just as the Tigers looked to have kept their opponents scoreless going into the break, Morgan Escare was allowed to ghost through the line and dot down after being fed by Thomas Leuluai.
Cas extended their lead just three minutes after the break, Jesse Sene-Lefao powering past three Wigan players and grounding the ball.
Willie Isa had a chance to create a foothold for the hosts to try and get back into the game but fumbled Leuluai’s pass within five metres of the whitewash.
Tom Davies could’ve reduced the arrears for the Warriors, but he couldn’t keep hold of Liam Forsyth’s flicked pass within a few metres of the line.
The Warriors spurned another opportunity to try and rescue something out of the game, Forsyth throwing the ball past the nearby Escare and straight out into touch within touching distance of the line.
After the hosts had squandered a number of chances, Escare converted his own try and reduced Castleford’s lead to 10 points with seven minutes to go, following a darting run from Davies.
Just as Wigan were exerting some late pressure, Greg Eden intercepted Joel Tomkins’ pass before scoring a length-of-the-field four-pointer.
Gale nailed a drop goal in the final minute to add insult to injury and ensure the Tigers finished as comfortable victors.