Wigan’s Halliwell Jones Stadium jinx continued on Friday night, as they sunk to a disappointing 16-8 loss at the hands of local rivals Warrington.
The defeat marked the Cherry and Whites’ sixth loss from six at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, five of which have come against the Cheshire club.
The visitors got off to a dream start when the kick-off was allowed to bounce over the line, giving them immediate possession. Twice referee Ben Thaler wiped down the tackle count, before a neat Sam Tomkins grubber kick was pounced on by Australian centre Cameron Phelps. Pat Richards added a simple conversion to give his side an early 6-0 advantage.
The hosts managed to turn the screw within the next 20 minutes, and had Wigan on the ropes for much of the half. Only handling errors kept the score at 6-0, the most blatant of which saw Matt King narrowly fail to bring down Lee Briers’ clever chip on the right wing.
Warrington were clearly dominant throughout the half, and should have crossed the line on numerous occasions before they finally did draw level. King atoned for his error with five minutes of the half remaining, though, closing the deficit to just two points.
Patient build-up resulted in Briers finding time to send a pinpoint chip to the right side, and King made no mistake in plucking the ball out of the air and crashing over in the corner. Chris Bridge’s conversion attempt sailed just the wrong side of the sticks, leaving the home side trailing 6-4 at the interval.
Eight minutes into the second half, full-back Richards extended Wigan’s lead to four points with a penalty 30 yards out in front of the sticks, after Warrington indiscipline at the play-the-ball.
After a period of steady set completion and back-and-forth play, winger Chris Riley put Tony Smith’s outfit ahead for the first time in the match. Quick lateral passing from right to left ended up with Riley stepping inside in the corner to pull the scores level, before Bridge landed a perfect touchline conversion to open up a 10-8 lead.
Having trailed for much of the game, the home side grabbed a stranglehold of the game ten minutes later, after scrum half Michael Monaghan crashed through Wigan defence to touch down. Bridge added the simple extras to make it 16-8 to the home side.
Wigan’s hopes of a fifth win from six in all competitions were fading rapidly, and 11 minutes from time they were nearly dead and buried. A pass spanning the width of the pitch wasn’t dealt with properly by the Wigan defence, but centre Simon Grix’s touchdown was chalked off for interference in the build-up.
Wigan chanced their arm in the closing moments, with prolific winger Shaun Ainscough nearly succeeding with a clever kick down the left flank, but Warrington saw the game out to draw level on 12 points with Brian Noble’s men and stay tenth in the table.
Warrington – 16
T: King (35); Riley (59); Monaghan (65);
G: Bridge (60, 65)
Wigan – 8
T: Phelps (3);
G: Richards (3, 50)
Ref: B Thaler