Amos Roberts scored twice and set up another as Wigan went top of the league by edging Warrington 22-20 in a thrilling encounter at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
In what turned out to be a game of two halves, the Warriors saw very little of the ball in the opening 40 minutes but an injury to Warrington stalwart Lee Briers in the second half helped spur them on to victory.
Despite some early pressure from the home side, Wigan took the lead. Quick hands from ‘skipper of the day’ Andy Coley released Roberts who used his blistering pace to slice open the Wolves defence and touch down in the corner.
But Wigan were reduced to as little of the ball as possible as Warrington battled hard, forcing their opponents to concede too many early penalties for Michael Maguire’s liking.
Briers’ conversion then gave Wire the advantage.
The home side continued their dominance with the ball spending a lot of time in the Wigan half.
With that pressure there was only ever going to be one side who scored next and Chris Riley, who ran in five tries a fortnight ago against Harlequins, opened his account taking the scoreine to 10-4.
Richard Silverwood went to the screen five minutes later. A static Wigan defence allowed Monaghan to get his fingers to Briers’ intelligent kick but the hooker was judged to have fumbled the ball and no try was given.
However, it wasn’t long before Warrington did extend their lead.
David Solomona touched down after more relentless pressure with Briers adding the extras as the sides closed the half at 16-4.
Contrasting half time team talks were certainly held. Wolves boss Tony Smith will have been demanding consistancy.
Maguire, on the other hand had a lot to do. Wigan had looked static and sloppy and seemed to lack the blitz and dominance from the previous two rounds.
One thing the visitors needed to do was ensure that they increase the amount of pressure in their opponents half quite drastically.
But the early stages of the second period seemed to be much the same.
Things took a turn for the worse for the Wolves when Briers was carried off the park with an ankle injury.
He had been struggling throughout the first half but insisted on playing through the pain barrier which eventually took its toll and the home side began to crumble.
Moments later Wigan edged closer to their opponents.
Roberts notched up his sixth try in three games but there was an air of controversy around his try. Silverwood once again asked the video referee for assistance and it appeared that former Warrington centre Martin Gleeson had obstructed opposite number Matt King.
However, video referee Phil Bentham gave the benefit of the doubt to the attacking side. Richards missed the conversion.
Roberts, who was once again proving his worth, set up Darrell Goulding in the corner. Richards didn’t fail to convert this time round and took the score up to 16-14.
It was very much roles reversed in the second half, Warrington were the ones fumbling the ball and giving away needless penalties as Wigan captalised.
It was a combination of the two which brought the sides level. After the Wolves had dropped in front of their own line then went in with a high tackle moments later, Richards kicked a penalty.
Wigan continued to overwhelm their opponents and it wasn’t long before they took the lead.
Sam Tomkins who had been annonymous for his own standards throughout produced a sublime chip and chase, creating a three on one situation.
With the help of Thomas Leuluai, he found his brother Joel who completed the sublime move.
Richards’ conversion took the scores to 22-16 with ten minutes to play.
The home side were adamant they weren’t going to go down quietly though and Monaghan’s 40-20 gave them a chance to hit back straight away,
Back to back attacks saw Louis Anderson barge his way over but the Wolves remained shy of the Wigan points tally, with Bridge missing his kick and leaving the score at 20-22.
The game really couldn’t have ended in more dramatic fashion. The home fans thought they had pinched it with two minutes remaining when Solomona went over but the video referee once again came to Wigan’s rescue once again, ruling the effort out as a knock on.
One more last attack didn’t bare any fruit for the Wolves and they lost out on a game they really could have won.
Mathers, King, Bridge, Atkins, Riley, Briers, Myler, Morley, Monaghan, Carvell, L Anderson, Westwood, Harrison
Replacements: Higham, Wood, Grix, Solomona
Roberts, Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards, S Tomkins, Fielden, Leuluai, Coley, Hansen, J Tomkins, O’Loughlin
Replacements: Prescott, Bailey, Paleaaesina, Mossop