By Alastair Hancock
Wigan Warriors begin their 2020 pre-season schedule with a 6-70 victory over London Skolars in the annual Capital Challenge fixture.
Twelve tries overall saw the Cherry and White ease to a record win at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) ground in London.
- Sam Halsall, Umyla Hanley and Matty Nicholson all grabbed two tries each to help notch up 70 points.
Wigan Warriors posted 70 points and recorded their biggest win in the annual pre-season Capital Challenge friendly against London Skolars on Friday.
Amid fears the game could have been called off due to a waterlogged pitch and health and safety concerns raised by match officials prior to kick-off, the fixture went ahead in unusual circumstances – each team playing 10 a side, on a reduced, unaffected and smaller pitch and in four timed quarters – all falling into the RFL’s match regulations.
Set within London’s financial district at the iconic Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) ground, Wigan scored 12 tries overall – six in each half – with 11 of those being converted to settle the 6-70 result against the Betfred League 1 outfit.
Braces from Sam Halsall, Umyla Hanley and Matty Nicholson, plus efforts from James McDonnell, Ethan Havard, Jake Shorrocks, Harry Rushton, James Barran, Cian Tyrer saw the Warriors stroll to their sixth victory over the Skolars in the fixture’s seventh year.
10 a side ✅— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) January 17, 2020
Narrow pitch ✅
Game played in quarters ✅
Unique London setting ✅
It was a different experience to say the least today! 🤪😅
Thank you, as ever, to the HAC and @LondonSkolarsRL for their fantastic hospitality! Good luck for the season ahead! 👏👏#WWRL pic.twitter.com/IrqHam2HB1
With Reserves Coach Darrell Goulding in charge of the team and Head Coach Adrian Lam watching on from the side-lines, the youthful Wigan side got off to a good start as Halsall touched down in the right corner after eight minutes.
A special solo effort from Hanley allowed the full-back to go over in front of the posts, before McDonnell took a pass from half-back Shorrocks to go over the whitewash on the 22nd-minute.
Prop Havard extended the Warriors’ lead after half an hour on the clock – a quick line from an unexpected position of dummy half to power over in front of the sticks – in the second quarter of the first half.
Twenty-four-year-old Shorrocks got on the scoresheet soon after, with a break on the right edge allowing him to dart over.
Wing-played Halsall grabbed his second of the game, a minute before half-time, as he chased a high kick from scrum-half Shorrocks and capitalised on a Skolars mistake to touch down in the corner. The latter converted all of Wigan’s first half tries – apart from his own – to give his side a comfortable 0-34 lead at the break.
Two minutes into the second half, forward Rushton got the visitors’ seventh try of the afternoon, after he collected a neat offload from McDonnell to ease over.
Stand-off Barran got on the scoresheet on the 50th minute as he took advantage on a gap in the London line to burst through, before the rapid Tyrer showed off his pace to break the opposition defence on the left edge and score a 50m try.
Just before the hour mark, youngster Hanley got his brace in spectacular fashion, as he teased the Skolars defence with a few dummies before dancing his way over the whitewash.
An intelligent offload from Barran saw Under-18s second row Nicholson make a brilliant breakaway to go over as Wigan’s ninth different try scorer with ten minutes remaining.
The Skolars did get a consolation try on the 74th minute as Kayne Chan-Kitchener finished off a well-worked move down the right flank. The winger converted his try too to give the home side something to take away from the game.
But it was the Cherry and Whites who scored the final try of the contest as England Youth international Nicholson was fed by Tyrer’s flick pass to allow him to grab his second.
Former Skolars loanee Barran converted all of Wigan’s second half tries to complete the 6-70 score line.
Wigan Warriors: Umyla Hanley, Sam Halsall, Ben Holcroft, Jake Shorrocks, Ben Kilner, Aiden Roden, Ethan Havard, Kai Pearce-Paul, James McDonnell, Joe Shorrocks.
Interchanges: James Barran, Cian Tyrer, Jake Sculthorpe, Max Roberts, Oscar Stone, Harry Rushton, Alex Sutton, Logan Astley, Matty Nicholson, Jack Bibby, Tom Forber.
Tries: Halsall (2), Hanley (2), Nicholson (2), McDonnell, Havard, Jake Shorrocks, Rushton, Barran, Tyrer
Conversions: Jake Shorrocks (5/6), Barran (6/6)
Next up for the Warriors is Liam Farrell’s testimonial fixture and pre-season friendly against Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
For information on tickets for the testimonial fixture, please click HERE.
Wigan Warriors TV subscribers can watch all of the upcoming 2020 pre-season friendly fixtures live on Wigan TV with match commentary.
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