Sometimes it is simply about points, rather than performances. It would have been unreasonable to expect too much from Warrington here given that they have had just two training sessions since their last game more than three weeks ago, owing to the Covid-19 outbreak that has ravaged their first-team squad.
But while this was not a polished performance by any stretch of the imagination, it was one filled with resilience and spirit, two traits which could yet take Steve Price’s side a long way in this season’s title race. They remain adrift of the two leading clubs, Catalans and St Helens, but results like these could prove pivotal in securing as favourable a position as possible in the top six later this summer.
“I thought we were very brave defensively,” Price said. “It showed that we’ve had barely any training sessions for the past three weeks. We’ve only had 10 players on the field and two training sessions, but we showed up for each other, we played some good footy in patches. You can see we’ve got some resilience in this group.”
Here three tries were enough to see off a valiant effort from a Wigan side whose own play-off hopes remain firmly in the balance. Having started the season with seven consecutive wins, hopes of challenging for top spot are now a distant memory following just three wins in their last nine games. However, this latest loss was not without moments of promise – or controversy.
“Their third try was a disgrace,” Wigan’s coach, Adrian Lam, insisted. With Warrington leading 14-8 and the game still up for grabs, Wigan’s Liam Marshall claimed a loose ball before appearing to be caught in the head by an opposition boot. Play was not stopped, however, and Jake Mamo collected the loose ball and raced the length of the field to put clear daylight between the sides.
Lam added: “We’re looking at the welfare of players and they wouldn’t go up and look at the video referee? It’s a penalty. You can’t kick a player in the head and allow the play to continue. That was a key moment.” He may well have been right, but his side trailed at half-time despite dominating the majority of play.
Two wonderful tries from Marshall were either side of a Blake Austin try for Warrington, and after Austin’s skied kick saw full-back Josh Thewlis touch down the loose ball, the Wolves led 12-8 at half-time with Stefan Ratchford’s two conversions proving the difference. In contrast, Harry Smith missed both his conversion attempts for Wigan. Ratchford then added a penalty for the hosts after the restart.
The Warriors are now level on win points percentage with fifth-placed Hull FC after this defeat, but they will point to Mamo’s try as a decisive moment. When he crossed and Ratchford converted from the touchline, it made it 20-8 and realistically meant there was no way back. Austin added a drop-goal in the dying moments to cap victory for Price’s side.