As the Wigan Warriors faced the Warrington Wolves in game five of the Magic Weekend both sides knew that a win would not improve their league position but for the Wolves it would keep them in touch with Saints in the race for second, and for the Warriors it would guarantee them play-off football.
The Wolves were the bookies favourites for a win which would guarantee third spot in the 2021 table and plunge the Warriors into a battle for the remaining three play-off places but should Wigan spring a surprise then they would make it impossible for Hull KR to catch them and knock them out of the top six.
With third against fourth the neutrals were hoping for a similar feast to that which was served up yesterday when top played second.
Under a minute after the referees first whistle Josh Thewlis pounced on a Gareth Widdop high kick after it took a cruel kick away from the Warriors defenders for the Warrington winger to go ten metres to score. Stefan Ratchford pulled his kick wide of the left uprights, but it was a stunning start for the Primrose and Blue.
The try woke Wigan from their early game slumbers, and it developed into an end to end encounter played at pace but with the defences on top.
On twenty-six Widdop went close and was tackled just short but a quick play the ball saw George Williams at first receiver to go over from ten metres to celebrate in front of the Wigan fans, of whom he was once the darling. Ratchford added the conversion for a 10-0 lead.
Jackson Hastings was held up on his back on thirty-seven, the closest that the Warriors had come to scoring and on the next set of six after forcing a Warrington drop out Ethan Havard waltzed through a broken defensive line for a score from ten metres. Harry Smith added the conversion to send the Warriors into the interval trailing by just four points.
The second half was lively but ferocious and disciplined defences from both sides denied any real scoring chances.
On seventy-one and after a short stoppage for an injury, Jack Hughes had the first real scoring opportunity of the half as he went over on his back, but Zak Hardaker managed to get a hand under the ball and prevent him from grounding.
A scoreless second half was to Warrington’s advantage as they held on to the fruits of their first half efforts and the 10-6 win.
This was one for the purists with just three tries and only sixteen points, the Warrington Wolves emerging as the winners and guaranteeing themselves a top three finish to the season. The Warriors are right back in the scrap for the lower play-off places and could end the regular season as low as sixth place in the competition making the route to Old Trafford the most difficult.
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker, Marshall, Farrell, Bibby, Halsall, Hastings, Smith (G), Singleton, Shorrocks, Partington, Pearce-Paul, Bateman, Smithies. Subs: Byrne, Havard (T), Bullock, Powell.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford (G), Charnley, King, Mamo, Thewlis (T), Williams (T), Widdop, Hill, Walker, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin. Subs: Clark J, Longstaff, Mulhern, Akauola.
Referee: James Child.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-8, 0-10, 4-10, 6-10 : HT : : FT.