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Warriors pay the penalty
Richards reaches landmark but Wolves left dancing at final hooter
Warrington once again enjoyed a trip to the DW Stadium, seeing off Wigan 22-20 in a thriller to move to the Stobart Super League summit.
The battle of the competition's top two in 2011 didn't disappoint, each team managing three tries apiece in a see-saw contest that eventually came down to the kickers on display.
With Pat Richards picking up an injury, the Warriors were left to rue Josh Charnley's two missed conversions, allowing Brett Hodgson to boot the Wolves to their third straight win at the home of their north-west neighbours.
Separated by just a point at the end of the last regular season and again going into this match, there wasn't anything to split the pair of heavyweights at the end of a pulsating first 40 minutes.
Warrington's early-season issues of failing to keep hold of the ball continued to haunt them in the opening minutes, allowing their opponents to get up an early head of steam.
The Warriors twice attempted to breach the defensive line by running the ball before instead opting to go for goal to break the deadlock, Richards slotting over a penalty to become just the third player to reach 2,000 points in the famous Cherry and White jersey.
Yet the decision to go for two immediately backfired when Paul Prescott lost the ball from the re-start, the Wolves gleefully accepting the gift to score a try out wide through Ryan Atkins, the centre having initially created the opportunity by stealing the ball in the tackle.
Conceding against the run of play seemed to suck the life out of the hosts and it required a scintillating break from Sam Tomkins to lift them out of their malaise, Atkins' superb ankle tap denying the full-back another classic try to add to his ever-growing collection.
Warrington also produced some solid work on their own line to stop Michael McIlorum, though there was nothing they could do to prevent Gareth Hock ploughing over from close range on the very next play.
Richards' kick put Wigan back ahead and the lead was extended further when McIlorum wasn't denied a second time, albeit from a dubious play-the-ball by Liam Farrell. This time Charnley tried the extras, slicing his attempt wide.
It seemed the home fans would head off for their famous half-time pie happy enough at the break, only for the Wolves to strike back and level matters. Hodgson's long cut-out pass put Joel Monaghan in at the right corner and although the former missed the conversion, he made no mistake with a penalty attempt that he eventually attempted after the hooter had sounded.
Perhaps stinging from letting a lead slip from their grasp, the Warriors took just 72 seconds to forge in front again in the second period.
It looked like their chance had gone when Tomkins didn't use the support after again bursting clear from deep, but within two tackles Richards, his injured thigh heavily strapped, was able to slide over. Charnley couldn't convert but did go on to add a penalty, putting Wigan six clear for a second time.
Yet the Wolves, despite their problems keeping hold of possession, refused to be kept from the door. Lee Briers - Super League's very own version of Fagin with his ability to pick an opponent's pocket - perfectly read a Thomas Leuluai pass to get his side a try they had scarcely threatened.
Although Charnley made it 20-18 with a penalty it was Wigan who would pay the price for falling foul of referee Richard Silverwood, Epalahame Lauaki on two occasions losing his cool to let Warrington in. To rub salt in the ex-Hull forward's wounds, he was also placed on report for each offence.
Full-back Hodgson, playing just his third game of the campaign, was on the mark on each occasion, kicking Warrington to top spot as Wigan were left to wonder just how a game they had dominated for long periods had slipped from their grasp.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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