Wigan Warriors 20-6 Warrington Wolves: Bevan French try helps hosts close gap
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 16/08/19 10:37pm
A try from Bevan French on his home debut helped Wigan Warriors go level on points with Warrington Wolves thanks to a 20-6 win in Friday’s Super League game.
The hosts were in control at the break, with one try apiece from French, George Williams and Zak Hardaker - who converted all three - putting Wigan 18-0 up when the hooter sounded.
Warrington rallied after the restart, but, try as they might, could not find a way back into the contest and had two potential tries from Declan Patton chalked off by the video referee.
Full-back Hardaker's penalty was Wigan's only score of the second half and they held out to condemn the Wolves to their fifth-straight Super League defeat, despite having Oliver Gildart sin-binned.
It amounted to another hammer blow to Warrington's Grand Final hopes and was hardly the best preparation for next Saturday's Challenge Cup final against St Helens either.
Certainly Saints coach Justin Holbrook - watching on from the DW Stadium's main stand - appeared to revel in the occasion as Warrington boss Steve Price, an old friend from their NRL days, engaged him in a mock fight in front of the television cameras.
It was an unhappy return for Wolves half-back Matty Smith, a member of Wigan's double-winning team of 2013, who will now take a break from his loan spell due to being cup-tied for the final at Wembley.
The Wolves were still without hugely influential playmaker Blake Austin and former Wigan second rower Jack Hughes, and they face more worries with Jason Clark and Bryson Goodwin needing treatment for head injuries.
French got his chance in the absence of injured winger Joe Burgess and he marked the occasion with the game's first try, profiting from full-back Hardaker's cut-out pass on 15 minutes.
The Australian wide man could have had a second two minutes later, but Canberra Raiders-bound England stand-off Williams instead used him as a foil as he dummied his way over following a break on halfway.
Warrington hardly saw the ball at that stage and they were hit again seven minutes later when Hardaker collected a ricochet from his own grubber kick to score his side's third try.
The former Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers player converted all three tries to make it 18-0 and Wigan would have been even further ahead but for a last-ditch tackle by Wolves' England forward Ben Currie on the dangerous French.
Warrington improved in the second half, but any hope of a comeback disappeared when stand-off Patton was twice denied tries within eight minutes of the restart.
He lost his grip on the ball in Liam Farrell's tackle as he slid towards the line and was then ruled to have used a double movement in stretching out of Liam Byrne's last-ditch challenge.
Wigan spent most of the third quarter camped inside their own half but during a rare foray into Wolves territory, Hardaker stretched their lead with a penalty goal awarded for interference in the ruck.
Even while down to 12 men, with England centre Gildart despatched to the sin-bin on 57 minutes for a high tackle on winger Jake Mamo, the reigning champions' defence held firm - in spite of the best efforts of second rower Joe Philbin.
French then had a second try disallowed, this time for a forward pass, and the visitors' perseverance eventually paid off when winger Tom Lineham went over for a try eight minutes from the end and Patton kicked the touchline conversion.
Man of the match Morgan Smithies was happy to get the win above all else to ensure Wigan moved level on points with Warrington.
Wigan head coach Adrian Lam was delighted with the first-half display from his side which set them on course for victory.
Warrington head coach Steve Price was pleased with the second-half response from his side, but felt they left themselves with too much to do after the first 40 minutes.