Warrington 26-24 Wigan: The Wire into Challenge Cup last eight
Last Updated: 13/05/19 7:21pm
Warrington held their nerve in a tense finish to reach the last eight of the Challenge Cup with a 26-24 victory over Wigan.
The reigning Super League champions produced some of the best rugby of their difficult season so far but fell just short against last year's beaten finalists in a fast-flowing sixth-round tie at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
With both sides scoring four tries, the outcome came down to a late penalty goal from Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford, such was the fine margin between the two teams.
The Wolves took full advantage of an early handling error by Wigan centre Dan Sarginson, working the ball out for winger Bryson Goodwin to score the opening try on his return from injury.
Ratchford kicked the first of his five goals to make it 6-0 but Wigan, beaten 23-0 by the Wolves at the quarter-final stage in 2018, were in no mood to roll over this time.
They looked to have drawn level when Thomas Leuluai forced a handling error from danger man Blake Austin and picked up the loose ball to send Sarginson racing 60 metres to the line, only for video referee Robert Hicks to disallow the try for a double knock-on.
The visitors made up for that disappointment when Leuluai hacked forward a loose ball and hooker Sam Powell followed up to dive on it at the second attempt.
Warrington regained the lead after 27 minutes when Ratchford got second rower Jack Hughes charging for the line and the co-captain stretched out of the tackle to plant the ball on the line.
Leuluai levelled the scores once more six minutes later when he proved unstoppable from five metres out after taking Sean O'Loughlin's pass but the home side restored their six-point advantage just before half-time when outstanding hooker Daryl Clark raced over from dummy half for their third try.
Zak Hardaker pulled two points back with a penalty early in the second half but Wolves centre Ryan Atkins put two scores between the teams for the first time when he dummied his way over for his side's fourth try.
Ratchford's fourth goal from as many attempts made it 24-14 but it was all square once more after Wigan struck twice in five minutes.
Sarginson got over the line after Leuluai's clever change of direction, this time getting the green light from the video referee, and Hardaker stretched out of the tackle to score his side's fourth try.
Hardaker had the chance to put Wigan in front for the first time but he was wide with the touchline conversion attempt and they forfeited a glorious chance to mount another attack when Leuluai failed to find touch with a penalty.
Warrington worked their way upfield and Ratchford nudged them back in front with a penalty after 68 minutes when prop Ben Flower was pulled up for interference in the ruck.