Both Warrington and Wigan were still smarting from last weeks Challenge Cup semi-final exits as they met in the final game of round fifteen at Headingley Stadium in Leeds. The winner knew that they would end the round in second spot but with the Catalans Dragons beating Hull KR, the loser knew that they would drop below the Leeds Rhinos and out of the top four.
Warrington had Ashton on the bench, Stefan Ratchford preferred at full back while Wigan gave a debut for new signing Brad Singleton and welcomed back Morgan Smithies after a six-week suspension.
The Wolves were slight favourites with the bookies, Wigan receiving an eight-point start on the handicap coupon.
Willie Isa was sin-binned with just four minutes on the clock for tackling a player without the ball. From the resulting penalty Stefan Ratchford was held up over the line on the first tackle and despite conceding another set of six the Warriors defence held strong and denied the Wolves.
The first points cave by virtue of a penalty try to Warrington on eleven minutes. Matty Ashton was taken out by Dominic Manfredi as he chased down a Ratchford grubber kick to the corner. Ashton was unable to ground the ball but there was enough of an obstruction for the referee to award a penalty try. Ratchford added the conversion from the shadow of the uprights, a 6-0 lead totally with the balance of play.
Chris Hill battered through three tacklers to score a ten metre try on twenty minutes as the Wolves made their dominance count, Ratchford adding the conversion for a 12-0 lead, Wigan struggling to get any type of foothold.
On twenty-three Wigan were back in the game with Joe Greenwood finding space right of the sticks to go through a massive gap for a walk-in try. Zak Hardaker added the conversion to reduce the arrears to six points.
The last action of the half was an awful attempt at a drop goal from Blake Austin, the ball not troubling the sticks.
Wigan were level on forty-three with Hardaker collecting a Jackson Hastings grubber kick to go through a gap in the Wolves defence and score behind the posts. Hardaker added the conversion for 12-12.
On forty-nine Warrington were awarded a penalty and someone from their ranks elected to take the penalty. Despite a change of heart, the referee forced the place kick and Ratchford kicked it for a two-point lead.
As the second half wore on it increasingly became an arm wrestle between two resolute defensive sides shutting down any attacks from the opposition.
With five minutes left on the clock the Wolves line was finally broken as Liam Farrell found a gap to take the pass from Harry Smith and step out of a tackle to go in for a four pointer. Hardaker added the conversion for a four-point winning margin.
There was a nervousness from both sides as they looked to bounce back from last weeks cup defeats and that manifested itself through strong defences and some poor decisions on the last tackle from both sides. It was Wigan who snatched the win at the death, despite being up against it for long periods of the game, and while the Warriors remain second it will force Warrington out of the all-important top four.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford (3G), Charnley, Gelling, King, Mamo, Austin, Widdop, Hill (T), Clark D, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Clark J. Subs: Philbin, Davis, Ashton (PT), Robson.
Wigan Warriors: French, Bibby, Hardaker (T, 3G), Isa (SB on 4), Manfredi, Hastings, Leuluai, Bullock, Powell, Partington, Farrell (T), Greenwood (T), O’Loughlin. Subs: Smithies, Smith, Singleton, Shorrocks.
Referee: Chris Kendall.
Half Time: 12-6.
Full Time: 14-18.
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.