Both the Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers came into tonight’s clash at the DW Stadium, to mark the start of round six of Super League 2022, on the back of defeats last time out. Wigan were on the receiving end of a humiliating nilling at the hands of the Catalans Dragons, and Lee Radford´s Tigers must have been concerned that they would be the ones that faced a massive backlash.
Tommy Leuluai and Willie Isa were both back for the Cherry & Whites, while Castleford welcomed back Jake Mamo, Bureta Faraimo and George Griffin.
Our pre-match Twitter poll showed that 80% of people thought that Wigan would be able to put last weeks horrors behind them and the bookies agreed in giving the Tigers a twelve-point start on the handicap coupon.
Good early pressure from the Tigers saw Jake Mamo held up over the line and two plays later Wigan were forced to drop out under their own sticks and on seven minutes the visitors took the lead when Gareth O´Brien slotted over a penalty from twenty metres out.
But the first try of the night came from Wigan on their first attack after the kick off with Zak Hardaker taking a Cade Cust miss-out pass to go over in the right corner on the overlap. Hardaker was unable to convert his own try, but the Warriors were 4-2 to the good.
Wigan were in for their second on twenty-two as Jai Field broke downfield and went through the line before finding Liam Farrell in support to go in from twenty metres. Hardaker added the conversion from in front of the posts.
The Tigers were playing some decent rugby an on thirty-four Greg Eden found some space down the left wing after he took a miss-out pass and found his way to the line from fifteen metres out and dive in at the corner. O´Brien was unable to add the touchline conversion but the Tigers were back within four.
Mahe Fonua was sin-binned on thirty-eight minutes after a late tackle, which looked a little harsh, but the scores remained unchanged into the interval.
Still down to twelve men the Tigers conceded a third Wigan try on forty-four as Ethan Havard took a Ollie Partington pass to step past the defence. Hardaker added the conversion for 16-6.
It was so easy for Wigan on forty-seven with the in-form Jai Field taking a kick on his own twenty metres and splitting the Tigers defence for an eighty-metre solo sprint down the field to score under the sticks. Hardaker added the goal, and the Warriors were quickly banishing the memories of last weekend’s nightmare.
The ten-minute, one man, deficiency had cost the Tigers twelve points and the game.
On fifty-four minutes Farrell lunged for the line with two tacklers in attendance and after consulting with the video referee the try was awarded to practically extinguish any hopes that the Tigers had of a fightback. Hardaker added the conversion or 28-6.
Against the run of play George Griffin used his strength to power over the line and despite being held on his back he managed to force the ball onto the line. O´Brien added the conversion but his side still trailed by sixteen.
On sixty-four Jake Trueman took a neat inside pass and darted ten metres to place the ball. O´Brien added the conversion for 18-28, it was getting a little more nervy for the Warriors.
Three minutes later and Jake Mamo brought the Tigers right back into the game as he dove for the corner and scored one-handed by the right corner flag. O´Brien was unable to add the conversion but the sides were separated by just a single converted try.
On seventy-two a high tackle by Brad Martin on Willie Isa saw the Tigers substitute sent off, and it was game over for the visitors. Hardaker kicked the resulting penalty for 30-22.
A penalty, given for offside, was kicked by Hardaker from twenty metres out to extend the lead to ten points.
After an even first half the sin-binning of Fonua just before half time proved costly for the visitors and despite a spirited fightback the clumsy high tackle by Martin which saw him sent to the dressing rooms signalled the end of their hopes of picking up a second win. It was a far from vintage Wigan performance and they still look a long way from the finished article but they are back level with Saints at the top of the table and can forget about their failed French adventure.
Wigan Warriors: Field (T), Marshall, Pearce-Paul, Halsall, Hardaker (T, 6G), Cust, Leuluai, Smithies, Powell, Byrne, Farrell (2T), Bateman, Isa. Subs: Mago, Partington, Smith, Havard (T).
Castleford Tigers: O´Brien (3G), Eden (T), Fonua (SB on 38), Mamo (T), Olpherts, Trueman (T), McShane, Griffin (T), Lawler, Smith, Edwards, Blair, Westerman. Subs: Faraimo, Hepi, Matagi, Martin (SO on 73).
Score Progression: 0-2, 4-2, 8-2, 10-2, 10-6, (SB) : HT : 14-6, 16-6, 20-6, 22-6, 26-6, 28-6, 28-10, 28-12, 28-16, 28-18, 28-22, (SO), 30-22, 32-22 : FT .
Referee: Chris Kendall.