Warrington edge Wigan in Challenge Cup thriller – talking points & ratings

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Warrington knocked Wigan out of the Challenge Cup with a 26-24 scoreline at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. 

Steve Price made two changes to his Warrington side that won at Castleford last week. Bryson Goodwin and Ben Murdoch-Masila came in for Jack Johnson and Harvey Livett.

Wigan coach Adrian Lam made three changes to his outfit that beat London last time out. Morgan Escare, Jake Shorrocks and Morgan Smithies were replaced by Joe Burgess, Dan Sarginson and Tony Clubb.

Goodwin edged the Wolves into an early lead on his return to action. Wigan half-back Tommy Leuluai put the tackle of the season on Blake Austin in the 14th minute.

Sam Powell levelled the score midway through the first half, before ex-Warrior Jack Hughes crossed for Warrington.

Wigan fought back once more and scored through Leuluai but the score didn’t remain the same for long. Daryl Clark made a quick burst from dummy half to race 40 metres and give the hosts an 18-12 lead at the break.

Ryan Atkins flew over for Warrington shortly after the restart, while Wigan tied the score at 24-24 thanks to tries from Sarginson and Zak Hardaker.

A penalty goal from Stefan Ratchford in the 67th minute proved to be the difference between the teams. Wigan did everything they could towards the end of the game, but the Wolves managed to hang on for a 26-24 victory. They face a trip to Hull KR in the quarter-finals.

Three talking points

Warrington resilience paid off

It looked as though Wigan could have snatched it in the second half but Warrington dug their heels in and managed to grind out the win.

The Wolves wouldn’t have been able to do that a couple of years ago and could’ve easily lost the game before the Price era, but credit must be paid to them because their resilience was fantastic.

Warrington’s attitude in games has been solid this season and from the outside, it is looking like there is a strong culture being built at the club.

Clark and Ratchford outstanding

The performances from Daryl Clark and Ratchford were very impressive. Daryl Clark provided plenty of spark in the middle of the park and his quick dummy half runs tired Wigan’s middles out.

Ratchford created a lot going forward for the Wolves. His kick returns were very good and his carries out of yardage were top class. He also kicked the all-important penalty goal late on, too.

Clark and Ratchford have been in terrific form for Warrington this season and they are certainly doing themselves no harm in putting their hands up for Great Britain selection this autumn.

O’Loughlin still the master 

The England and Wigan captain was very, very unlucky to be on the losing side on Sunday afternoon. He was outstanding in the three spells he had on the field.

O’Loughlin makes a massive difference to Wigan when he is on the field. He added stability to the Warriors in defence but he was even better in attack against Warrington, creating plenty of opportunities for his side.

The 36-year-old is off-contract at the end of the season and it would be a great shame for him to retire at this point because he has still got plenty to offer. The sooner Wigan offer him a new deal, the better.

Line-ups & ratings

Warrington: Ratchford (9); Goodwin (8), King (7), Atkins (7), Charnley (7); Austin (7), Patton (7); Hill (7), D Clark (9), Cooper (8), Currie (7), Hughes (8), Davis (6). Subs: J Clark (8), Murdoch-Masila (7), Philbin (7), Akauola (8).

Tries: Goodwin, Hughes, D Clark, Atkins Goals: Ratchford 5/5

Wigan: Hardaker (8); Marshall (6), Sarginson (6), Gildart (7), Burgess (7); Williams (8), Leuluai (9); Flower (8), Powell (8), Navarrete (5), Isa (7), Greenwood (8), Clubb (7). Subs: Bullock (8), Hankinson (6), O’Loughlin (9), Tautai (7).

Tries: Powell, O’Loughlin, Sarginson, Hardaker Goals: Hardaker 4/5

Attendance: 7,086

Drew’s views

What a brilliant Cup tie it was and it was also a classic Warrington-Wigan derby. BBC will be glad they’ve had two thrilling ties televised on Saturday (Bradford-Leeds) and Sunday.

There wasn’t much separating the sides in the game whatsoever. Warrington’s will to win was quite admirable and they did very well to keep Wigan out.

Wigan can be proud of their performance. It was one of their best performances of the season and they can certainly take a lot of positives from it. They stretched Warrington at times with their passing plays.