PICTURES EDDIE WHITHAM
WARRINGTON Wolves booked their place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals with an impressive 23-0 win over Wigan.
The Wolves dominated from start to finish with Kevin Brown and Tyrone Roberts dictating the game off the back of a platform laid by excellent forwards Chris Hill and Mike Cooper.
It puts Warrington in the semi-final double header at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on Sunday August 5, their eighth semi-final in the past decade.
Steve Price’s men started on the front foot and early pressure courtesy of a Roberts kick forced an early drop out.
Outmuscled by their opponents at the Magic Weekend a fortnight ago, it clearly wasn’t going to be a repeat after 10 minutes as the Wolves forward took it their opponents.
For all that pressure though, it took 13 minutes to break the deadlock. Brown, who had earlier kicked dead in the corner on an early tackle count, dummied on the last tackle and shrugged off Sam Powell before reaching out to get the ball on the line. There was controversy over the subsequent conversion, which hit the post high up and appeared to then go inside, but both touchjudges flagged it away.
Warrington’s dominance continued in all areas, though at the half hour stage, they still held only a slender 4-0 advantage.
That was until on 33 minutes, after a Roberts move with Stefan Ratchford had broken down, Ben Murdoch-Masila charged on to a short ball from the resulting play the ball and neither Taulima Tautai or Liam Farrell could stop the big back-rower touching down.
Even 10-0 probably wasn’t reflective of the Wolves’ dominance, and just as it looked Wigan might go in to half-time relatively relieved, they were hit by a big blow right on the hooter.
Roberts stepped left before shifting the ball out right to Ryan Atkins who sent Josh Charnley away, and the winger slid over against his former club, with Harvey Livett’s touchline conversion meaning the hosts took a 16-0 lead in to the break.
Charnley’s try was the 200th of his career – and against his boyhood club!
A Wigan response was expected, but their attack continued to be flat, and it was clear Warrington’s dominance had taken it out of the Warriors, who lost at Hull KR last week in the week after coach Shaun Wane announced he would be departing at the end of the season.
Wigan’s task got much tougher on the hour mark when Thomas Leuluai was sent to the sinbin for a cannon-ball tackle on Ben Westwood, and Warrington’s defence remained firm against the 12 men.
It took 34 second half minutes to see any further points, Bryson Goodwin tagging on a penalty goal before Roberts rubbed salt in to Wigan wounds with a drop goal on 75 minutes.
And as the hooter sounded, the result was made even sweeter as hometown boy Dec Patton raced away off Goodwin’s inside ball at the death to sign off a superb victory with a final try.
After the game Warrington’s Head Coach Steve Price said: “That was our best performance to date!”
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Charnley, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood. Subs: Philbin, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Akauola.
Wigan: Tomkins, Davies, Bateman, Gildart, Marshall, Williams, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Escare, Sutton, Tomkins, Tautai.
It came against his boyhood club… pic.twitter.com/r5V39PEsNK
— The Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) June 3, 2018
“That was our best performance to date.”
— Warrington Wolves (@wolvesrl) June 3, 2018