The final game of the first day of the Magic weekend was a game between two sides with recent Magic history. Wigan Warriors and the Warrington Wolves met for a third consecutive on-the-road game. The Warriors were 38-10 winners in Newcastle last season and the two sides drew 24-24 in 2017.
The Giants big win in game two saw them go ahead of Wigan into eighth but a Warriors win would see them back up a place thanks to their superior points difference. The Wolves needed the win to at least keep a slender grip on the St Helens shirt tails and stop them disappearing out of sight at the top of the pile.
Warrington were the victors in both previous meetings this season and the form book suggested that this would be three from three in front of the end of day crowd at Anfield.
It took fifteen minutes of end to end rugby before the boot of Zak Hardaker broke the deadlock with a penalty goal from twenty metres.
The first four-pointer came on twenty-one, Declan Patton sliding over the line after collecting a Tom Lineham chip over the top of the Warriors defender. Patton converted his own try for a 6-2 lead to the Wolves.
Joe Greenwood took a massive hit from the ball carrying shoulder of Joe Philbin on twenty-two and had to be helped off the field looking unlikely to return.
Patton added another two-pointer on thirty-four with a twenty-five metre penalty to extend the lead to 8-2, an indication of how tight the game was.
Ben Murdoch-Masila had the ball dislodged by Zak Hardaker as he went for the line, the Wigan full-back saving a certain try with two minutes left on the clock and Wigan went into the sheds trailing by just six points in a competitive encounter.
Jake Shorrocks was held up over the line four minutes into the second half but two tackles later Wigan moved the ball wide left and Joe Burgess found his way to the line to get the ball down and reduce the arrears to just two points. Hardaker pulled the conversion attempt wide of the uprights, Warrington holding on to their lead.
A push at the play the ball from Chris Hill gifted Hardaker a penalty kick right under the sticks to level the scores are 8-8, the game was anyones.
The game was level for just a matter of minutes before Blake Austin tore through the Wigan defence to score by the left upright after a thirty metre explosive run. Patton added the conversion for 14-8, the ship steadied.
A Josh Charnley half break from his own ten metre line saw him make the thirty before passing inside to Toby King who pinned back his ears and went seventy metres to score under the sticks, giving Patton a simple conversion for a 20-8 lead, the game slipping away from Wigan.
Patton added a penalty goal on sixty-three for 22-8, the Wolves had stepped it up a gear and Wigan were struggling to make any headway.
Another two points were claimed by Patton after Wigan failed to clear the ruck after a tackle made it 24-8 with nine minutes remaining.
Willie Isa picked up a consolation try on seventy-three after taking a Shaun O’Loughlin pass before going twenty metres to touch down. Hardaker added the extras for 14-24.
A late tackle from Tony Clubb on Blake Austin gifted Patton a seventh goal of the night for 26-14 and as the Wolves ran the clock down they’d secured their third win if the season over the Warriors and inflicted the first Magic defeat on the Warriors for ten years.
Wigan did well to fight their way back into the game just after the interval but then the Wolves managed to click up a gear. Coupled with some indiscipline from Wigan, the Wolves half-backs bossed the game. Patton kicked seven goals from seven attempts to enable Warrington to keep in touch with St Helens, Wigan are still in some danger down the bottom of the table and it will only take the sites below them to pick up a couple of win to pull them back into the relegation dog fight.
Wolves: Mamo, Lineham, Goodwin, King (T), Charnley, Austin (T), Patton (T, 7G), Hill, Clark D, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin. Subs: Murdoch-Masilla, Clark J, Akauola, Walker.
Warriors: Hardaker (3G), Hankinson, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess (T), Williams, O’Loughlin, Flower, Shorrocks, Bullock, Isa (T), Greenwood, Clubb. Subs: Tautai, Smithies, Sammut, Partington.
Referee: Chris Kendall.