Toronto Wolfpack are finding life in Super League to be far tougher than last seasons Championship campaign, and they have started the season with back to back losses which see’s them at the bottom of the table.
And the tough games just keep coming for the Canadians who faced a round three game at Wigan, against a Warriors side who have beaten Warrington, but lost to Castleford, so far in this campaign.
The Wolfpack were without Sonny Bill Williams who has returned to New Zealand for the birth of his fourth child, further lengthening the odds of a Toronto win with the bookies, the home side were massive pre-game favourites.
With Jon Wilkin having withdrawn just before kick-off, his stand-in James Cunningham lasted just six minutes as he left the field with an injury. It was going from bad to worse for Brian McDermott’s side.
Despite relentless early pressure from Wigan the Wolfpack defence held firm and on twenty-two minutes it was the visitors who took the lead. Matty Russell was on hand to pick up a loose ball and score in the corner after Wigan spilled a McCrone high kick under pressure. Blake Wallace was unable to score from the touchline.
On twenty-six Harry Smith put the Warriors back on level terms as he slid over from five metres after Toronto had been forced to drop out under their own sticks. Zak Hardaker pushed his conversion across the face of the posts, the sides tied up at 4-4.
A knock-on and penalty gave Wigan the opportunity to further pressure the live and on the second tackle Bevan French took a neat inside pass from Liam Farrell to run through the defensive line to run in from ten metres. Hardaker put the conversion between the sticks for a 10-4 lead.
Adam Sidlow was held up over the line on forty-six but on the next set Gareth O’Brien selflessly put in a short pass to Bodene Thompson for a two metre try when the full-back could have easily scored. Wallace added the conversion and the sides were level again.
Wigan turned defence into attack as a quickly taken twenty-metre tap saw the ball through the hands of French and Hastings culminating in a Joe Burgess sixty metre run to score under the sticks. Hardaker added the goal for a 16-10 lead, somewhat against the run of play in the second half.
On sixty-three a step from the illusive French saw him ghost through the stretched Wolfpack defence for his second score of the evening. Hardaker added the conversion to leave Toronto with a mountain to climb.
With five minutes remaining Hakim Miloudi was caught off balance and slapped Sean O’Loughlin in the face as the Wigan skipper had a walk in to score. O’Loughlin was helped off the field as Miloudi was shown the yellow card. On the first play after the penalty Hastings was the provider as Liam Farrell crossed the line to ground. Hardaker couldn’t add the conversion but the points were safe with a 26-10 lead.
Farrell got his second try two minutes later against the twelve men, Hastings again the provider, but the second rower still had plenty to do to get the try. Hardaker added the conversion for 32-10.
Toronto showed periods of promise throughout the game but Wigan were just too strong over the full eighty. Losing players to injury didn’t help the visitors cause and once Miloudi was sin-binned it was all over. The final score shows a big win for Wigan but they knew that they were in a battle and they weren’t at their best in taking the two points. Plenty of head scratching for Toronto, a steady start to the season so far for the Warriors.
Warriors: French (2T), Burgess J (T), Hardaker (4G), Bibby, Marshall, Hastings, Smith (T), Partington, Leuluai, Clubb, Isa, Farrell (2T), O’Loughlin. Subs: Bourouh, Bullock, Clark, Smithies.
Wolfpack: O’Brien, Kay, Miloudi (SB on 74), Leutele, Russell (T), Wallace (G), McCrone, Singleton, Ackers, Springer, Olbison, Thompson (T), Cunningham. Subs: Sidlow, Mullally, Dixon, Wheeler.
Referee: Chris Kendall.