Wigan came from 14 points behind to pull off a great comeback and win 32-24 at Widnes.
Shaun Wane made four changes to his Wigan side that beat Castleford last week. Morgan Escaré, Dan Sarginson, Gabe Hamlin and Josh Ganson came in for Sam Tomkins, John Bateman, Ben Flower and Liam Farrell.
Widnes coach Denis Betts made four changes to his side that battered Coventry Bears in the Challenge Cup last week. Jimmy Keinhorst, Greg Burke, Tom Olbison and Hep Cahill replaced Charly Runciman, Brad Walker, Danny Walker and Stanton Albert.
Wigan looked good from the start and won back-to-back penalties in the opening minutes, which put them in good field position. George Williams slipped Oliver Gildart through a gap to score the first try of the game. Escaré couldn’t convert, but Wigan were 4-0 up after 11 minutes at the Halton Stadium.
The Vikings quickly replied with a try of their own though. They threw the ball about near the Wigan line and Olbison crashed over from a couple of yards out. Tom Gilmore converted to edge Widnes into a 6-4 lead.
Jay Chapelhow extended Widnes’ lead in the 34thminute. The blockbusting front-rower latched onto a grubber from Jordan Johnstone to dive over. Gilmore’s boot took the score to 12-4 in favour of the home side.
Wigan hooker Tommy Leuluai was sent to the sin bin after committing a professional foul for holding Olbison back.
And the Vikings utilised their advantage of having an extra man as they passed it through quick hands to winger Ryan Ince who scored in the corner. Gilmore converted to put Widnes 18-4 ahead at the interval.
The Warriors came out of the sheds all guns blazing. They caught the Vikings off guard by using the short side and Joe Burgess finished excellently in the corner. Escaré failed to convert, Wigan trailed 18-8 after 50 minutes.
Wigan scored another just two minutes later. Escaré produced some mouth-watering footwork to go past Rhys Hanbury and score for Wigan. Sam Powell converted, Widnes 18-14 Wigan.
Willie Isa burst through a gap in the Widnes defence to score against his former club. Powell’s conversion put Wigan in a 20-18 advantage.
Sarginson committed a high tackle near his own line and Widnes opted to take the two as a result. Gilmore added the penalty goal to level the score at 20-20.
In the 72ndminute, Ryan Sutton put Wigan back in front with a bulldozing drive over the line. Powell converted to put the Warriors 26-20 up.
Play was stopped for several minutes while Burgess was being treated after landing awkwardly on it. He left the field unable to put weight on it and did not return.
Widnes didn’t give up though and passed the ball wide to Ince who got his second of the night. Gimore couldn’t convert though, so the Vikings were still behind by two points.
Taulima Tautai sealed the win for Wigan 90 seconds from the final hooter. Powell added the extras to secure a hard-fought 32-24 win.
Widnes: Hanbury; Ince, Keinhorst, Chamberlain, Ah Van; Gilmore, Craven; Gerrard, White, Burke, Whitley, Wilde, Olbison. Subs: M Leuluai, Cahill, J Chapelow, Johnstone.
Wigan: Escaré; Marshall, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Powell; Clubb, T Leuluai, Navarrete, Sutton, Isa, O’Loughlin. Subs: Ganson, J Tomkins, Hamlin, Tautai.
Starman: Willie Isa worked his socks off for Wigan in attack and defence and scored a try as well against his former club.