PICTURES EDDIE WHITHAM
WARRINGTON Wolves suffered last gasp Challenge Cup heartbreak as they were edged out 26-27 by arch rivals Wigan Warriors in a thrilling quarter-final clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Dec Patton, who was only called up into the team 15 minutes before kick off due to an injuryt in the warm up to Kevin Brown, missed a last second drop-goal attempt for Warrington as Wigan held on to reach the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Just moments earlier, with the score 26-27, Stefan Ratchford missed a penalty from halfway line to win it as his logn range effort drifted wide.
Wigan started the brighter of the two teams racing into a 12-0 lead as two tries from Joe Burgess and one for Liam Marshall had put them 18-12 ahead despite Ryan Atkins’ double for Wolves.
John Bateman crossed for a walk over try after the break as Kurt Gidley and Andre Savelio went over for Wolves before the late drama.
But it was Sam Tomkins’ drop goal that separated the two sides as Patton missed the chance to send it to golden point extra-time.
Gidley’s late try made it aa grand stand finish as Wigan duly sent the kick-off straight into touch, giving Ratchford the chance to win the match from the tee.
He sent it wide of the posts but there was just enough time for one last Warrington push to a drop-goal position, but under pressure from onrushing Warriors players, Patton could not get the ball through the posts.
Patton was a late replacement for Brown, who pulled out with a foot injury in the warm-up, as Warrington went 12-0 down early on after two tries from Burgess – the second a powerful diving finish under pressure on the touchline.
Atkins drew his side level when he latched onto two excellent high kicks, only for Marshall to sneak through the Wolves defence with relative ease to put Wigan back in front.
A penalty from George Williams extended the advantage, before Savelio got on the end of a slick move and a Patton penalty drew the sides level once more.
Bateman then found the gap to cross to put Wigan ahead for a third time and Tomkins made it a two-score game, ultimately putting the game beyond Wolves.
After the match Tony Smith said: “There wasn’t much between us and a fantastic match for the nuetral. Effort and character was there from both teams.
“There were opportunities for us but unfortunately we didn’t take them all.
“There was a lot of fight and spirit from my boys but w ehave got to stop those fundamental errors which hurt us today.
“To get so close and not get the win was disappointing.”
Warrington: Ratchford, Dagger, Hughes, Atkins, Lineham, Brown, Gidley, Cooper, Clark, Sims, Jullien, Philbin, Westerman.
Replacements: Dwyer, G. King, Savelio, S. Wilde, S. Wilde.
Wigan: S. Tomkins, Marshall, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Nuuausala, McIlorum, J. Tomkins, Bateman, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Replacements: Isa, Sutton, Powell, Tautai.
Referee: Ben Thaler
Warrington (12) 26
Tries: Atkins (2), Savelio, Gidley Goals: Patton 5
Wigan (18) 27
Tries: Burgess (2), Marshall, Bateman Goals: Williams 5 Drop-goal: Tomkins