THERE has never been a sweeter Super League win against Wigan than the one on Sunday.
Wolves toppled the current champions and Challenge Cup winners to leap above them at the top of the table going into the final round of the season.
It was Wolves’ biggest win of the Super League era against their fiercest rivals and it was done in the ‘Wigan way’ – down the middle with the ball and suffocating in defence without it.
Tony Smith felt his players had to perform with less expressionism in order to avoid the wrath of referee Richard Silverwood against this opposition, something he learned the hard way from the Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat in July.
And perhaps Wigan did not expect it. They certainly could not cope with it.
Wolves’ swarming tactics led to Wigan hardly leaving their own half in the opening 40 minutes, while the speed of Wolves’ play-the-ball and the might of Wolves’ pack dismantled one of the best defences in the business.
It is quite fitting that Michael Monaghan collected the player of the year and players’ player of the year awards on Tuesday, because he was the life and soul of Sunday’s party piece.
With the team inspired by skipper Adrian Morley’s return from two months of injury exile, it was magical Monaghan who orchestrated Wigan’s fall from grace with his dummy-half darts and distribution as well as crunching defence an all-round performance rewarded with two tries.
Contrasting the teams’ fortunes, Wolves broke records as Wigan grew in frustration.
Wigan’s controversial full back Sam Tomkins was lucky to get away with a caution for a dangerous kick at Jon Clarke’s ball-grounding effort in the second half, while visiting forward Gareth Hock has ended up with a five-match ban for his gouging and punching of Ben Harrison in the final stages.
Wolves’ 21st win of the season – another club record in the summer era – completed a league double over the Pie Eaters.
Now, most are hoping the two teams’ biggest clash of the season is still to come at Old Trafford on October 8.
Wolves reached the milestone of scoring 1000 points in a single Super League season.
The win took Wolves' record to 21 victories in the season, a record for the Super League era.
Lee Briers' try was the club's 218th of the campaign, another record for a single season.
Engage Super League round 26, Sunday, September 4, 2011
Warrington Wolves 39 Wigan Warriors 12
Chris Riley; Joel Monaghan (1t), Chris Bridge (7g), Ryan Atkins, Matt King (1t); Lee Briers (1t), Richie Myler; Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan (2t, 1dg), Garreth Carvell, Louis Anderson, Simon Grix, Mike Cooper. Subs: Jon Clarke (1t), Ben Harrison, Lee Mitchell, Matty Blythe.
Sam Tomkins; Josh Charnley, Joel Tomkins, George Carmont, Pat Richards (2g); Paul Deacon (1t), Brett Finch; Andy Coley, Thomas Leuluai, Jeff Lima; Harrison Hansen, Ryan Hoffman, Sean O’Loughlin (1t). Subs: Michael McIlorum, Paul Prescott, Liam Farrell, Gareth Hock.
Matt King came in from behind Josh Charnley to collect Lee Briers’ high kick and touch down, 10mins, Bridge converted, 10-0; Briers collected his own grubber kick from a deflection and strolled over the line, 14mins, Bridge converts, 12-0; wonderful long ball from Michael Monaghan sends Myler away and he finds the hooker back on his inside to finish off, 19mins, Bridge converts, 18-0; Hansen fumbled the ball as he drove in and Michael Monaghan scooped up possession to saunter home, 25mins, Bridge converts, 24-0; from a tap penalty a long ball from Finch puts Deacon through a huge hole and he stepped and wrong-footed five Wolves players before touching down, 29mins, Richards converts, 24-6; Michael Monaghan pops over a 30m drop goal, 37mins, 25-6; Jon Clarke uses all his strength to scramble over from dummy half, 63mins, Bridge converts, 31-6; Joel Monaghan intercepts Finch’s long pass and races 90 metres to score for the 26th time this season, 69mins, Bridge converts; 37-6; O’Loughlin follows up Finch’s kick to score, 77mins, Richards converts, 37-12; Bridge kicks a penalty awarded for a Hock punch on Harrison, 80mins, Bridge converts, 39-12.
Wolves 11 Wigan 11