Anything other than a victory for the Warrington Wolves would condemn them to the middle eight’s and seven games of anguish to fight for their Super League lives. While tonight’s opponents Wigan Warriors are already safely in the Super Eights a win would get them within just two points of fourth placed Hull FC.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between these two great sides with the Warriors having won comfortably in the league but by just a single point in the Challenge Cup. The sides also fought out a dramatic draw at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
There was just a minute on the clock when Wigan opened the scoring when Oliver Gildart picked up a Thomas Leului grubber to dive over in the corner. George Williams failed to add the extra two from wide by the touchline.
On thirteen Benjamin Jullien levelled the scores after a good period of pressure when he took a bullet pass from Stefan Ratchford to make it the remaining four metres to dive over. Ratchford was unable to add the conversion.
On twenty John Bateman was the beneficiary of a Leuluai break to take a pass fifteen out from the Wolves line and go over under the sticks. Williams was successful from under the uprights for 10-4.
Three minutes from the break and the Wolves registered their second of the night when Declan Patton put up a kick which Tom Lineham knocked back into the willing hands of Ryan Atkins to drop over the line. Ratchford was again unable to add the extras leaving his side trailing by 10-8 at the break in a game where the two sides were evenly matched and it was all still to play for.
The Wolves weathered an early second half onslaught from the Warriors and on fifty-five they snatched the lead when Ben Currie was on hand to ground a Patton grubber as it travelled into the goal area. Patton took over the kicking duties but he couldn’t add the extras.
A Wigan knock-on on their own ten metre line was quickly followed by a penalty right under the uprights and Ratchford took the chance to kick the goal to double the lead to 14-10 on the hour mark.
When Bateman petulantly slapped Peta Hiku on seventy-five the Wolves again accepted the opportunity for a penalty goal and Ratchford pushed the ball between the uprights for a 16-10 lead with four minutes left.
The Warriors finished the game in the Warrington twenty but couldn’t breach the Wolves line and the visitors held on for a six point win.
This was a confidence boosting win for the Wolves which keeps alive their hopes of the Super Eights, at least until Huddersfield Giants play the Leigh Centurions on Friday evening. More likely it will be a help to them going into the Super Eights, most likely finishing the first part of the season in ninth spot.
For Wigan it pushes their goal of a top four finish and a shot at Old Trafford in the play-offs a little further from their grasp. If Hull FC can beat the Leeds Rhinos tomorrow then the Warriors will be six points adrift of a top four berth.