Sam Powell scored the only try of the game as Wigan claimed a narrow 6-4 victory over Castleford in wild conditions at the DW Stadium.
Adrian Lam made two changes to his Wigan side that won at Salford on Easter Monday. Sean O’Loughlin and Powell replaced Morgan Escare and Amir Bourouh.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell also made two changes to his side that were defeated by Catalans Dragons in France last time out. Nathan Massey and Tuoyo Egodo came in for Junior Moors and Michael Shenton.
Wigan full-back Zak Hardaker had a try ruled out in the 16th minute as he failed to ground the ball correctly and it was the only time the Warriors were near the Castleford line in the first half.
The Tigers took the lead in the second quarter as Peter Mata’utia nailed a penalty goal after Wigan were caught interfering at the play-the-ball.
Samoa international Mata’utia added another penalty goal late on in the first half after Warriors captain O’Loughlin was penalised for stealing the ball from Daniel Smith. Castleford were 4-0 to the good at half-time.
Powell scored on his return to action on the hour mark. He scooted from close range to barge over for the Warriors. Hardaker’s conversion saw Wigan lead 6-4.
It was a nervy finish to the game, with both teams having a couple of half chances to score. However, the Warriors managed to hang on for a 6-4 win and move up one spot in the Super League table to eighth.
Three talking points
Wigan win at all costs
It wasn’t the best performance we will see from a Wigan side in 2019, but they got the job done. They were down on numbers but their ever impressive youngsters stood up to the test again and got the two points.
The return of England Knights hooker Powell certainly favoured the Warriors. His kicking game from dummy half was brilliant and he was constantly organising his side going forward, something in which they have missed while he served his suspension.
Tommy Leuluai also put in a big shift, especially in defence. He is one of the best pound for pound defenders in Super League and he certainly put himself about against the Tigers. He left the field late on for a concussion assessment after throwing himself into as many tackles as he could to help Wigan out in the middle.
Mata’utia is a class act
The Samoa star has proved to be a top quality signing for the Tigers since he joined the Super League side from Championship outfit Leigh Centurions in 2018.
He filled the full-back void left by Hardaker at Castleford and he has been one of the standout stars in Super League so far this season.
The Tigers might not have won on the day, but Mata’utia was magnificent in the No. 1 role. His support play was exceptional and he got Powell’s men on the front foot a couple of times. If Castleford are to win any silverware this year, Mata’utia will be vital to that success.
Both teams doing it tough
The teams were down on numbers in the game and were nowhere near having their best available 17-man squads. And before anyone comments… Of course all teams have injuries! But some are worse than others, and Wigan and Castleford are certainly struggling at the moment.
Wigan were without Tom Davies, Dan Sarginson, Tony Clubb, Liam Farrell, Romain Navarrete, Dom Manfredi and Jarrod Sammut for the game, who all would normally be in Lam’s matchday 17.
Meanwhile, Michael Shenton, Luke Gale, Grant Millington, Oliver Holmes, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Junior Moors, Alex Foster, Matt Cook and Jamie Ellis were all missing for Castleford. With so many frontline players sidelined for both outfits, it was never going to be a classic.
Line-ups and ratings
Wigan: Hardaker (8); Marshall (7), Hankinson (7), Gildart (7), Burgess (6); Williams (7), Shorrocks (7); Flower (8), Leuluai (8), Bullock (7), Isa (6), Greenwood (8), Partington (7). Subs: O’Loughlin (8), Powell (9), Tautai (6), Smithies (7).
Tries: Powell Goals: Hardaker 1/1
Castleford: Mata’utia (9); Clare (6), Minikin (8), Egodo (6), Eden (7); Aston (7), Trueman (6); Watts (8), McShane (7), Maher (7), Clarkson (6), McMeeken (8), Massey (7). Subs: Milner (7), Clark (8), Peachey (N/A), Smith (7).
Tries: Goals: Mata’utia 2/2
It wasn’t a game that Wigan or Castleford fans will be remembering anytime soon. The conditions were appalling, which meant no Classy Cas or expansive Wigan.
The Warriors should be credited for their goal-line defence, with the Tigers failing to cross the whitewash. Lam’s side still need to improve drastically in attack but with the youthful side they had out, they should be proud of their performance.
And speaking from a Castleford point of view, the weather just didn’t suit them at all. They weren’t able to throw the ball around and they lacked creativity near Wigan’s line. There isn’t too much to worry about for Tigers fans.
Elsewhere in Super League
Salford Red Devils won 30-10 against London Broncos at Ealing Trailfinders in the only other Super League game on Saturday.
Joey Lussick, Niall Evalds, Daniel Murray, Jackson Hastings and Lee Mossop went over for the Red Devils.