Warrington Wolves 32 Wigan Warriors 20

First published in Reports by

IF Saturday's clash with their rivals was the acid test for Wolves, they passed it with flying colours.

Jon Clarke and Martin Gleeson spoke last week about how victory would be a big step forward for either side after impressive starts to the campaign.

Wolves won three of their first four games last year but this time clinched a fourth win out of five for the first time since 1999.

It was also the club's fourth consecutive win against Wigan - the first time that has happened since a winning streak between 1980 and 1982.

And on Saturday's evidence, Wolves are simply better than Wigan.

What's more, Paul Cullen's men are starting to look like a side with the steel and consistency to mount a real challenge at the top of the table.

No side in Super League would relish coming to The Halliwell Jones Stadium at the moment.

Cullen called for Wolves' best performance of the season and he got it.

Wigan have never won at The Halliwell Jones and never looked likely to break that duck in front of a sell-out crowd.

Wolves used the skills that have given them the best attacking record in Super League - scoring 153 points in their first five games - to take an early lead.

They then defended their line resolutely during the crucial moments, particularly when Louis Anderson had been sent to the sin bin midway through the first half.

Referee Steve Ganson was rarely out of the action, giving 27 penalties during the game including 12 in the first 17 minutes to break a record for the season so far.

But Ganson was spot on when he dismissed ex-Wolves loanee Richie Mathers for a swinging arm to the neck of 6ft 3in Matt King 10 minutes into the second half.

Mathers had both feet off the ground and it was arguably the worst tackle in a Wolves match for a few years, although the full back did make a point of apologising to King and Cullen after the match and stressing that the challenge had not been intentional.

After a six-minute delay as King was stretchered off, Wigan were down to 11 men following Michael McIlorum's sin-binning.

That allowed Wolves to finish off the game, with Vinnie Anderson and Paul Johnson - both possibly more comfortable in the pack but playing at centre and wing - using their pace for a fine long-range try.

All this with Kevin Penny sat in the stand. Wolves really do have some squad this year.

Match facts.

engage Super League Round Five, March 8, 2008.

Warrington Wolves 32 Wigan Warriors 20.

Wolves: Stuart Reardon; Chris Hicks (1t), Martin Gleeson (1t), Matt King (1t), Paul Johnson (1t); Lee Briers (4g), Michael Monaghan; Adrian Morley, Jon Clarke, Paul Rauhihi, Ben Westwood, Louis Anderson, Vinnie Anderson (1t). Subs used: Rob Parker (1t), Andy Bracek, Steve Pickersgill, Mark Gleeson.

Wigan: Richie Mathers; Liam Colbon (1t), Darrell Goulding (1t), George Carmont, Pat Richards (2g); Trent Barrett, Thomas Leuluai; Iafeta Paleaasina, Mickey Higham, Andy Coley (1t), Gareth Hock, Phil Bailey, Sean O'Loughlin. Subs used: Stuart Fielden, Michael McIlorum, Harrison Hansen (1t), Eamon O'Carroll.

Referee: Steve Ganson.

Scoring: Vinnie Anderson runs a good line to collect Monaghan's crisp pass after Wigan had conceded two penalties, 4mins, Briers converts, 6-0; King charges over after Louis Anderson's offload had found Monaghan, 18mins, 10-0; Barrett puts Colbon over in the corner, 30mins, 10-4; Parker powers to the line from Morley's pass, 37mins, Briers converts, 16-4; Morley's offload creates an opening and Martin Gleeson is in no mood to be stopped after being fed by Reardon, 59mins, 20-4; Pickersgill offloads and Monaghan sprays the ball left for Vinnie Anderson to charge 40m and supply the supporting Johnson, 62mins, Briers converts, 26-4; Coley touches down from close range, 67mins, Richards converts, 26-10; Briers takes a quick tap penalty but the final pass to Hicks appears to be more luck than judgement, 73mins, Briers converts, 32-10; Goulding scores in the corner after collecting Hock's pass, 79mins, 32-14; Hansen crosses from close range, 80+mins, Richards converts, 32-20.

Sin bin: Wolves: Louis Anderson 23mins (holding down). Warriors: McIlorum 46mins (holding down).

Sent off: Warriors: Mathers 50mins (high tackle).

Pens: Wolves 14 Warriors 13.

Scrums: Wolves 3 Warriors 4.

Attendance: 13,024.

Warrington Guardian top men: Morley 3pts, Monaghan 2pts, Reardon 1pt.

Interesting note: Wolves were the only Super League team that Wigan did not beat at some point during 2007.

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