Warrington finish first day of Magic Weekend in style

Syndicate Post image
Warrington’s Blake Austin impressed against Wigan (Simon Cooper/PA)

Warrington brought down the curtain on day one of the Magic Weekend at Anfield in style with a resounding 26-14 win over Wigan.

Man of Steel front runner Blake Austin scored the decisive try as the Wolves gained their third win of the season over the reigning champions, further atoning for their 2018 Grand Final defeat.

This was the ninth meeting of the two rivals in the last 18 months but the fans clearly do not believe you can have too much of a good thing as Liverpool drew a crowd of 30,057 for the three first-day matches, which goes a long way towards allaying fears of a record low turn-out.

Wigan were level at 8-8 after 52 minutes but for the second successive week faded badly as they conceded 16 points in the last 26 minutes and with it the best Magic Weekend record to Huddersfield after losing for only the third time in 13 on-the-road matches.

Warrington coach Steve Price will be delighted with the way his side responded to their home defeat by Hull, especially without England full-back Stefan Ratchford, as they consolidated second place in the table.

The Warriors fielded something of a makeshift team with skipper Sean O’Loughlin and Jake Shorrocks occupying the starting positions at stand-off and hooker in the absence of specialists Thomas Leulai and Sam Powell.

Their injury woes continued with the loss of second rower Joe Greenwood before half-time for the second successive week, this time with suspected broken ribs.

A cagey opening was shaded by Wigan, who took the lead with a 17th-minute penalty from Zak Hardaker, but Mo Salah would have been proud to have been associated with the game’s first try.

Warrington winger Tom Lineham demonstrated neat footwork by twice kicking ahead for half-back Dec Patton to touch down.

Patton converted his own try and added a penalty in the 34th minute to make it 8-2, which was the half-time score.

Wigan were indebted to Hardaker for keeping his side in the game by preventing what appeared to be a certain try by forcing the ball free from Wolves forward Ben Murdoch-Masila as he made a charge for the line.

The former Leeds and Castleford full-back was then at the heart of the Warriors’ impressive start to the second half.

A fumble by Warrington winger Josh Charnley inside his own 20-metre area gifted his old club the perfect attacking position which they did not waste.

Shorrocks was held up after a dart for the line and, in the next play, winger Joe Burgess accepted a cut-out pass from George Williams to cross at the corner.

Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – DW Stadium
Zak Hardaker scored a difficult penalty for Wigan (Martin Rickett/PA)

Hardaker could not add the difficult conversion but levelled the scores in the 52nd minute with a penalty, which followed another Warrington handling error, this time by substitute Jason Clark.

With the game in the balance, it took a flash of inspiration from Austin to turn it once more in the Wolves’ favour, as the former Canberra stand-off went from first receiver through the heart of the Wigan defence for his 16th try of the season.

Patton’s third goal made it 14-8 and the game was put beyond the Warriors on the hour when Charnley swooped on a loose ball and sent centre Toby King away for an 80-metre try.

Patton once more added the conversion and kicked two further penalties to stretch the lead to 22-8 before Wigan grabbed a late consolation try through Willie Isa.

Patton then rounded off the scoring with a fourth penalty, his seventh successful kick from as many attempts.

Breaking