THINGS are looking up at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It is always a good feeling to defeat a fierce rival like Wigan, but to do so at this stage is a fillip to all-round confidence in the fresh approaches introduced this year by new head coach Steve Price.

Despite not everything clicking fully into gear yet, and the setback of injuries to Ben Currie and Kevin Brown, everyone can see the structures and systems in place do work.

It is true, one home win does not make a season but there is much to feel positive about – not least the fact that it was mid-April last year before The Wire were celebrating back-to-back victories.

The Huddersfield ‘blip’ aside, Wolves have improved each week and the levels of pride on the pitch are like a breath of fresh air. The fans are responding – they had The Halliwell Jones Stadium rocking on a bitterly cold night.

Again it was in defence that The Wire caught the eye, the players living up to the Price mantra of a ‘tough and resilient footy team’.

Wigan rarely troubled the Wire try line in opening 60 minutes and that is not something to be read often in a Warrington Guardian match verdict.

Cutting down on errors and penalties from previous weeks coupled with a strong kicking game led by Kevin Brown and fit-again Tyrone Roberts put Shaun Wane’s side on the back foot for long periods.

If there is a criticism of a fully-committed display, led by the hard-working Mike Cooper, evasive Bryson Goodwin and in-form Daryl Clark, it is that Warrington lacked a cutting edge at times.

For all the possession, territory and pressure that was applied, The Wire should really have been greater than 8-0 ahead at the break.

Had Ryan Atkins been able to keep hold of the late low offload from Ben Murdoch-Masila in the final throes of the half and had Roberts given an outside pass to debutant winger Mitch Brown instead of an inside kick after breaking away early in the second half The Wire may well have run away with it.

Credit Wigan for digging deep to stay in the hunt, just four days after returning from Australia.

Because of Wolves’ inability to nail down the coffin lid, even after Atkins’ decisive milestone try in the 55th minute Wigan still sniffed a chance to win the clash and finished the game the strongest.


. Sita Akauola and Mitch Brown make debuts.

. First home win against Wigan in four attempts.

. Atkins’ touch down makes him Super League’s fifth highest try scorer of all time.

. Marshall’s ninth try in five games against The Wire.

. Highest home attendance for a Super League/Super 8s game since 13,044 against Wigan on September 16, 2016.


Super League Round 3, Friday, February 23, 2018

Warrington Wolves…16 Wigan Warriors…10

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Mitch Brown, Ryan Atkins, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham; Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Ben Currie, Ben Westwood. Subs: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Dom Crosby, Sita Akauola, Dec Patton.

Warriors: Sam Tomkins; Tom Davies, John Bateman, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall; George Williams, Sam Powell; Tony Clubb, Tommy Leuluai, Ben Flower, Joel Tomkins, Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin. Subs: Morgan Escare, Ryan Sutton, Willie Isa, Taulima Tautai

Scoring: Goodwin penalty goal, 2mins, 2-0; Lineham try, 7mins, Goodwin conversion, 8-0; Goodwin penalty goal, 48mins, 10-0; Atkins try, 55mins, Goodwin conversion, 16-0; Marshall try, 63mins, 16-4; Clubb try, 79mins, Tomkins goal, 16-10.

Penalties: Wolves 8 Wigan 7

Referee: Ben Thaler

Attendance: 12,012

Top man: (Guardian readers’ vote): Bryson Goodwin

Watch the match highlights here: