A DEFINING weekend for Warrington Wolves, including Saturday's crucial scruffy success against Leigh, will perhaps serve to save the club from such depths again.

The Wire's stumbling 199th win of Tony Smith's 300-match reign confirmed a 2018 Super League place that he will not preside over as a consequence of his team's slide this year.

Ridicule, stress and livelihood loss associated with playing 'league' matches outside of the top flight for the first time in the club's history should set in motion actions to attempt to ensure the club does not sink so low again.

Recruitment, and not only of the right man as new head coach, is now a priority considering the better performers in saving Wolves' skin recently will not be in the 2018 squad.

Retiring Kurt Gidley, whose involvement off the bench just about sealed two precious points at Championship club London a week earlier, was at the heart of Wolves' best work again in a clash that would have left defence coaches pulling out their hair.

In only his second game since a bone break in his leg, the veteran Australian's scheming from dummy half helped keep The Wire in touch with, and eventually overtake, a similarly desperate Leigh side that did more of the pressing but bombed a number of chances.

Gidley's contribution was only bettered by the saviour signing Peta Hiku on a day which started, to the shock of supporters, with leaked news in New Zealand of his impending return home to be with his family.

Any concerns of Hiku, brought in from the NRL two months ago to add weaponry to the survival bid, being distracted were put to bed early on as his gutsy workrate, determination to win every little battle, and creativity made him the stand-out player on the field.

Moments after the Kiwi international had looked out on his feet after having replaced injured Tom Lineham on the left wing, he took a punishing drive from his own try line to start a set that ended with him leading a 50-metre chase for a Kevin Brown kick that caused calamity in the Leigh defence and allowed Hiku to take advantage with a crucial touchdown.

The Wire had to chase the game again soon after but Hiku's super-human effort, albeit from an offside position, had kept his side in the hunt when Leigh were getting on top.

Skipper Chris Hill eventually crossed for another match leveller after Gidley had isolated Eloi Pelissier for the big man to run over the top.

And then it was from Gidley's charge at the line that fit again Harvey Livett was handed the decisive penalty-goal shot 12 minutes from time.

For the second week running The Wire were then hanging on for dear life!

Interesting notes:

. Tony Smith's 300th game in charge of Wolves, his 199th win

. Eighth victory in a row, bookended by successes over Leigh

. Hiku scores a try for the sixth consecutive match

. 10th time Wolves concede 30pts or more in 2017 campaign, highest number since 13 in 2008

Match facts:

Middle 8s, Round Five, Saturday, September 9, 2017

Warrington Wolves...32 Leigh Centurions...30

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Matty Russell, Peta Hiku, Harvey Livett, Tom Lineham; Kevin Brown, Dec Patton; Chris Hill, Kurt Gidley, Ashton Sims, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, Ben Westwood. Subs: Joe Westerman, Andre Savelio, Brad Dwyer, Mike Cooper.

Centurions: Gregg McNally; Maty Dawson, Mitch Brown, Samisoni Langi, James Clare; Cory Paterson, Josh Drinkwater; Antoni Maria, Liam Hood, Danny Tickle, Atelea Vea, Lachlan Burr, Glenn Stewart. Subs: Eloi Pelissier, Greg Richards, Sam Hopkins, Harrison Hansen.

Scoring: Clare try, 4mins, Drinkwater goal, 0-6; Russell try, 8mins, Drinkwater goal, 4-6; Westwood try, 12mins, Patton goal, 10-6; Hood try, 16mins, Drinkwater goal, 10-12; Maria try, 18mins, Drinkwater goal, 10-18; Gidley try, 33mins, Patton goal, 16-18; Brown try, 38mins, 20-18; Vea try, 44mins, Drinkwater goal, 20-24; Hiku try, 54mins, 24-24; Burr try, 59mins, Drinkwater goal, 24-30; Hill try, 64mins, Livett goal, 30-30; Livett penalty goal, 68mins, 32-30.

Penalties: Wolves 7 Centurions 4

Referee: Phil Bentham

Attendance: 9,787

Guardian man of the match: Peta Hiku