The Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens was the venue for Round Two of Super League 2021 as the Mose Masoe round got underway with an Easter Thursday fixture between the Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity. Wigan had a narrow, and unconvincing win over the new boys from Leigh Centurions last weekend while Wakefield Trinity counted themselves unlucky to lose out narrowly to local rivals, the Leeds Rhinos.
Wigan were without superstar close season signing Jai Field who was ruled out for at least six weeks and potentially up to five months with a hamstring injury suffered within twenty minutes of making his Wigan debut last weekend.
Wakefield were given a ten-point start on the coupon with Wigan the strong favourites to get their second win of the season, and their fourth consecutive win over Trinity, and an eighteen-point win would demote Wakefield to the bottom of the table.
Good early work from Wakefield forced a Wigan drop-out after five minutes but the Warriors defence held firm. The early pattern seemed to be one of Wakefield pressure and the Warriors kicking them back into their own half and preparing for the next onslaught.
With twenty on the clock Wakefield finally got their reward when David Fifita brushed off four attempted tackles to score a solo try from ten metres out and give his side the lead. Mason Lino added the conversion for a 6-0 lead and it was nothing less than Trinity deserved.
Wigan struck back within four minutes as Oliver Partington crossed the line on his back and, according to the video referee, lost and regained possession before grounding the ball. Zak Hardaker added the conversion from under the shadow of the posts and the sides were tied up at 6-6.
There was a big concern for Wakefield on twenty-nine when Tom Johnstone took a head knock and left the field, later to fail his HIA.
As the half wore on it was increasingly Wakefield who were on the back foot but the defence was up to the task, frustrating Wigan at every turn and Josh Wood was held up under the sticks inside the last minute as the two sides went into the break all square.
Wigan were in front on forty-six with fast hands from left to right finding Jake Bibby who hugged the touchline after taking a Willie Isa pass and jumped for the line, scoring one-handed while airborne. Hardaker added the touchline conversion for 12-6.
The lead was doubled on fifty-five after a Liam Farrell break found Hardaker in support to take the pass thirty from the Wakefield line and go in under the sticks. Hardaker added the conversion and in the space of ten minutes the Warriors had opened up a twelve-point lead.
Another spectacular Bibby try, this time with a comfortable overlap after taking the Isa pass, saw the Wigan winger go airborne again for another one-handed try. Hardaker was on fine form with the boot again for his fourth goal of the night, Wigan edging out of sight.
It went from bad to worse for Wakefield when John Bateman went over on sixty-eight with a scoot from acting half back to get a four-pointer on his second Wigan debut. Hardaker added the conversion from nearby the right upright for a 30-6 lead.
Reece Lyne came closest to a second half score for Wakefield as he chased down a Lino kick, but he knocked the ball on in goal. On seventy-six Bibby took a Hardaker kick to the corner to run the angle and ground in the corner for the easiest of his three tries. Hardaker blew his one hundred percent record with his first miss of the night but Wigan went to the top of the table with a 34-6 win, at least for the next couple of hours.
If Wakefield aren’t careful, they are going to get a reputation as a forty-minute team. For the second week running they put in a stellar performance for the majority of the first half and then had nothing left for the second half. Wigan just bided their time and once the opposition fell away, they were clinical in closing the game out.
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker (T, 5G), Hanley, Farrell, Isa, Bibby (3T), Hastings, Leuluai, Bullock, Powell, Singleton, Smithies, Bateman (T), Partington (T). Subs: Shorrocks, Havard, Byrne, Smith.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire, Senior, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Lino (G), Fifita (T), Crowther, Arona. Ashurst, Pitts, Westerman. Subs: Wood J, Green, Tanginoa, Batchelor.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-6 : HT : 10-6, 12-6, 16-6, 18-6, 22-6, 24-6, 28-6, 30-6, 34-6 : FT.