First-half tries from Jake Wardle and Brad O’Neill gave Wigan Warriors the edge at half time in the top-of-the-table clash; Harry Smith pulled the strings and kicked a crucial penalty and drop goal in the second half; Warrington Wolves’ Greg Minikin had a late try contentiously ruled out
Last Updated: 14/04/23 10:22pm
Harry Smith played a starring role as Wigan Warriors became the first team to beat Warrington Wolves in 2023 with a 13-6 win which cut the gap at the top of the Betfred Super League table.
Jake Wardle’s fourth try of the season and Brad O’Neill’s first try for his club put the Warriors in command in the first-vs-second clash, but the Wolves hit back through Matty Nicholson three minutes before half time to make it 10-6 to the visitors at the break.
Half-back Smith, who converted one of Wigan’s first-half tries, extended the lead with a penalty after play resumed and then landed a drop goal with just over 15 minutes remaining to give his side a seven-point cushion.
That ultimately proved enough to secure victory for the Warriors, with the Wolves’ Greg Minikin contentiously having a late try ruled out by the video referee, and will have undoubtedly given watching England head coach Shaun Wane plenty to ponder ahead of the upcoming international against France on this ground on April 29.
Story of the game
After last week’s derby defeat of champions St Helens, Matt Peet’s side have now won five in succession. Indeed, Wigan started well at the Halliwell Jones Stadium and opened the scoring after five minutes as Smith and Bevan French combined to put Wardle through a gap for a simple finish.
Smith’s conversion attempt hit the post and Wigan missed another chance to add to the score when Liam Marshall knocked on in sight of the line.
Warrington dug deep to repel more Wigan pressure but they cracked again in the 28th minute when French’s clever chip inside was claimed by O’Neill and the substitute slammed the ball down.
Brad O’Neill extends Wigan’s lead with an outrageous grounding
This time Smith was successful to give the Warriors a deserved 10-0 lead but the hosts responded with a blistering breakaway try.
It came out of nowhere as George Williams broke up yet another Wigan attack before releasing Matty Ashton down the left.
Wigan got back quickly and halted Matt Dufty short after the ball was worked back inside but play was spread to the right and Nicholson found space toscore.
With Stefan Ratchford adding the extras the game was back in the balance at the break but, despite an increase in possession, Warrington struggled to break Wigan down.
Warrington’s players and fans were left aghast as Greg Minikin had a late try ruled out by the video referee for a knock-on
Smith edged the visitors further ahead with a penalty and then added a one-pointer as time ran out.
Josh Drinkwater and Minikin went over in quick succession late on as the Wolves attempted to claw back the deficit, but the video referee denied them both.
What they said
Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet
Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet was full of praise after a tough win over Warrington Warriors.
“We look connected, we’re playing well, defensively we look strong. There is plenty of improvement in us, but it’s a long season and it’s going to ebb and flow.
“We sat behind Harry’s kicking game and defending like our lives depended on it, which makes me very proud as a coach.”
Warrington Wolves head coach Daryl Powell
Warrington Wolves head coach Daryl Powell remains optimistic about his team’s season after a tough loss to Wigan Warriors.
“There are some lessons there, and then we have a couple of tries disallowed – one of them I’m not sure why.
“You can win games from being under extreme pressure and we’ll get a decent lesson from tonight and move on.”
Player of the match Harry Smith
“We knew we had to come here and play well to get the win, and I thought we did that.
“It was a very tough game, but one were glad to come out on the right side of.”
Warrington now face the trip to reigning champions St Helens on Friday, April 21, live on Sky Sports (8pm). Wigan are at home to Wakefield Trinity two days later (3pm).