Wigan hit back for thrilling win over youthful Wolves

Liam Marshall scores for Wigan Warriors against Warrington Wolves
Liam Marshall's 13th try of the Super League season was a spectacular score in the corner [Getty Images]

Betfred Super League

Warrington (18) 18

Tries: Lindop, Drinkwater, Ratchford Goals: Ratchford 3

Wigan (19) 19

Tries: Nsemba, Marshall, Leeming Goals: Keighran 3 Drop: Smith

Wigan Warriors fought back from 12-0 down and survived a late rally with 12 men to edge out a youthful Warrington Wolves side and go second in the Super League on points difference.

The reigning champions seemed stunned as a Wolves side featuring 11 changes played with freedom and took control of a pulsating rehearsal of next week's Challenge Cup final with tries by Arron Lindop and Josh Drinkwater.

But 19 unanswered Wigan points in 17 minutes, including a stunning score in the corner by Super League's top try scorer Liam Marshall, turned the game around by the break.

Warrington refused to be cowed and stayed in an increasingly nervy game to set up a grandstand finish when Wigan's Adam Keighran was sent off for a dreadful shoulder charge into Lindop with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Stefan Ratchford crossed for a third Wire try, all set up by Josh Drinkwater, but Wigan held out for a precious win which puts them second on points difference, but with a game in hand on leaders St Helens.

Keighran’s ill-disciplined moment did not cost his side as Warriors secured a 10th win in 12 league games, but means his participation in the Wembley showpiece on 8 June is in serious doubt.

Wigan will move top with a win in their game in hand while Wolves remain third, two points adrift of the top two.

Warrington boss Sam Burgess described his line-up as a “calculated selection gamble” and it nearly proved a masterstroke as debutants Cai Taylor-Wray, Nolan Tupaea and Jake Thewlis all impressed, matching unquestionable spirit with obvious quality against far more experienced opposition.

A blistering start lifted a raucous home crowd and instilled a belief that remained throughout a game that was in the balance until the end.

Wigan could have been ahead inside a minute had Marshall not stepped fractionally into touch following a Connor Wrench handling error from a long kick.

Ratchford’s straightforward goal put Wire ahead and then two delightful Drinkwater kicks set up tries as the home side extended the lead to 12-0.

Lindop benefited from the first, collecting a perfectly weighted tap through and Drinkwater then gathered his own delicate kick through as the hosts pressured the Wigan line following a great offload by Max Wood.

The rested Wolves players celebrated their lightning start from the stands, but Wigan retaliated in style.

French leads Wigan fightback

Junior Nsemba had too much strength as he barged through Drinkwater and over the line to get Wigan on the board with his third try in three games before Marshall's superb flying finish in the corner from Harry Smith’s fine pass.

Keighran’s second exquisite touchline kick levelled the scores and a typically classy Bevan French break exploited a gap in the Wolves defence and he found Kruise Leeming on the inside for a third converted try converted.

A last-gasp Smith drop goal - ultimately crucially - made it 19-12 at the interval.

But any thoughts that the nous and quality in the away ranks would overpower Warrington never materialised.

Following Keighran's straight red card, Drinkwater’s third superbly-judged kick enabled Ratchford to touch down with two minutes left and bring hope of a fifth consecutive Wire victory, but Warriors saw out the remaining time.

Warrington: Taylor-Wray, Lindop, Wrench, Tai, Thewlis, Ratchford, Drinkwater, Bullock, Powell, Wood, Holroyd, Tupaea, Whitehead.

Interchanges: Musgrove, Green, Nicholson, Hartill.

Wigan: Hampshire, Douglas, Keighran, Eckersley, Marshall, French, Smith, Havard, O'Neill, Byrn, Nsemba, Walters, Ellis.

Interchanges: Mago, Leeming, Dupree, Hill

Referee: Jack Smith.