Saturday 24th March 2012
Wigan Warriors 24 Warrington Wolves 34
Co-Operative Community Stadium, Orrell
The Warriors fell to a second defeat in this season's Valvoline Cup after a late brace of tries from Warrington Wolves snatached away a 2-point lead in the final ten minutes to win the game 24-34.
In a physical encounter between last season's Valvoline Cup finalists, Warrington got their revenge for Wigan's triumph at the climax of last season, and continued their impressive start to the campaign.
Warrington began by putting themselves under pressure through uncharacteristic unforced errors, and Jack Hughes managed to get over the line for the Warriors but was held-up by some desperate defence.
The balance was soon to swing temporarily in Warrington's favour, and after 8 minutes, they got a try of their own chalked-off as the referee judged a pass in the build-up to Danny Birkett's touchdown to be forward. Stand-off Ryan shaw then followed this up with some trademark creative play, but was unable to latch onto his own kick to finish what would have been an attractive play.
It was Ben Hellewell who finally broke the deadlock on 19 minutes, and despite a reply from Logan Tomkins shortly after, the Wolves took control as Birkett crossed again on the half hour as a result of a quick play the ball in Warrington's own half. The referee had no problems awarding the try this time, despite Matty Russell hunting him down the length of the pitch, as the ball was well down before the struggle ended up in touch.
The Warriors strayed offside from the next kick off, and the Wolves took the chance ruthlessly as Hellewell took his second by ducking under a group of defenders and emerging to high-fives from his teammates.
Warrington were looking to catch Wigan on the outside, even from deep in their own half, and it nearly paid off as a looping pass on their own line send Birkett clear yet again. It was forward, however, and Wigan coolly used a set-move involving Tomkins, Williams and Powell to send Connor Farrell over for a try.
Warriors scrum-half, Sam Powell, was forced to leave the field in a leg brace after he received an injury which held the game up in the closing stages of the first half, and despite good Wigan field position, the visitors were able to hold on and carry their slender lead into the interval.
The second half was dominated by bruising defence until Rhodri Lloyd crossed for the first of his two tries after quarter of an hour of the restart. Murphy's kick leveled the scores at 18-18, but once again, the balance was to swing as Danny Birkett, running dangerously all afternoon struck for his second.
Ryan Shaw, otherwise accurate throughout the game, missed the touchline conversion, and this allowed Wigan to pull in front for the first time as Lloyd grabbed a second converted by Murphy. A Matty Russell break gained the ground for Wigan, before Amos Roberts won a penalty as he was infringed when trying to get on with playing the ball quickly.
The lead was to only last 7 minutes tohugh, as James Saltonstall crossed to edge the Wolves in front again, before Ben Currie broke through a tired defence in the last minute to put a gloss on the result of a very exciting game.
Tries: Tomkins, Farrell, Lloyd 2
Goals: Murphy 4
Tries: Hellewell 2, Birkett 2, Saltonstall, Currie
Wigan Warriors: Jack Murphy, Amos Roberts, Ryan King, Jack Hughes, Matty Russell, George Williams, Sam Powell, Greg Burke, Logan Tomkins, Tom Spencer, Connor Farrell, Rhodri Lloyd, Kieran Harrison
Replacements: Gil Dudson, Rob Lever, Drew Johnson, Matty Crow
Warrington Wolves: Jordan Burke, Danny Birkett, James Saltonstall, Callan Beckett, Rhys Williams, Ben Currie, Ryan Shaw, Glen Riley, Liam Hulme, Ryan Duffy, James Laithwaite, Danny Bridge, Tyrone McCarthy
Replacements: Ben Hellewell, Brad Dwyer, Jack Morrison, Andy Finn
Report by Tom McCooey