Preview of tonight's Challenge Cup... LeagueUnlimited.com - NRL & Rugby League A View From The Hill ...
6 hours ago
Stuart Fielden got off to a winning start in a Wigan shirt as the Warriors enjoyed a 30-12 victory over Warrington at the JJB Stadium.
All the pre-match talk had centred around Fielden, and the former Bradford Bulls prop was thrown straight into the front row for his debut alongside Iafeta Paleaaesina, with Scott Logan rested.
And his side got off to the perfect start with two tries inside the opening 15 minutes through Paleaaesina and Nathan McAvoy, before Lee Briers created scores for Simon Grix and Toa Kohe-Love.
Only Michael Dobson?s penalty goal separating the sides at the break but the second half belonged to Wigan, as further scores by Brett Dallas, Sean O?Loughlin and Bryan Fletcher sealed the points and closed the gap between Wigan and safety to just four points.
Australian winger Pat Richards missed out for Wigan, with Mark Calderwood making a welcome return after several weeks out through injury.
Wolves were missing Great Britain star Martin Gleeson due to a finger injury, with his brother Mark also sidelined with a broken thumb.
The crowd were right behind the Warriors from the outset and Fielden, Paleaaesina and Fletcher made big yards in the early exchanges.
Warrington, in contrast were struggling to stamp their authority on the game, and an uncharacteristic kick out on the full by Lee Briers conceded the field position that led to the opening Wigan try.
Paleaaesina drove onto a neat short ball from Dobson and took two defenders over the line with him, with Dobson making no mistake with the conversion.
Five minutes later it was 12-0 after a quite breathtaking score that covered 70 metres of the field.
Calderwood made the break and, via the hands of Dobson, Chris Ashton, Danny Orr and Calderwood again, McAvoy took the final pass to touch down.
Dobson again converted, but McAvoy went from hero to villain three minutes later when he made a clean break but ignored Dallas on his inside only to fall at Stuart Reardon?s feet.
The mistake was to prove costly at the other end when, after a repeat set, great hands left saw Briers put Simon Grix over through Fletcher?s weak defence, with Briers closing the gap to six points.
That was immediately extended to eight points via the boot of Dobson after Paul Noone had gone high on Fielden.
Eight minutes before the break the Wolves again won a repeat set when Calderwood could not take Briers? towering kick to hand Warrington a scrum 10 metres out.
From the restart, Kohe-Love took a Briers pass to to step out of Dobson?s challenge and score under the sticks, with Briers? successful kick leaving it tantalisingly poised at 14-12.
The Warriors extended their lead 10 minutes into the second half, and it was a play right out of the Briers textbook.
Dobson forced the drop out when his kick pinned Richie Barnett behind his own posts and, three tackles later, Ashton?s long ball put Dallas in at the corner.
Dobson?s touchline goal made it 20-12 and, with the rampaging Paleaaesina back off the bench and taking three men to stop him every time, they were in the ascendancy.
Only a marginal forward pass denied Calderwood in the right-hand corner, but it did not matter as the Warriors were in again on the hour.
Another barnstorming run from Paaleaaesina, enjoying easily his best game in a Wigan shirt, set up the attacking position for Higham to put captain Sean O?Loughlin over, with Dobson?s boot pushing the score out to 26-12.
Fletcher?s last-minute score, from O?Loughlin?s kick, was the icing on the cake for the majority of the 16,103 crowd.
Wigan (14) 30.
Tries: Paleaaesina, McAvoy, Dallas, O'Loughlin, Fletcher. Goals: Dobson 5.
Warrington (12) 12.
Tries: Grix, Kohe-Love. Goals: Briers 2.
Wigan: Ashton, Calderwood, McAvoy, Vaealiki, Dallas, Orr, Dobson, Paleaaesina, Higham, Fielden, Hock, Fletcher, O?Loughlin.
Replacements: Seu Seu, Brown, Hansen, Tickle.
Warrington: Reardon, Grose, Grix, Kohe-Love, Barnett, Bridge, Briers, Leikvoll, Clarke, Wood, Westwood, Wainwright, Noone.
Replacements: Sullivan, Parker, Bracek, Pickersgill.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)