Friday 8th February 2013, 20:00 - Round:2
|Josh Charnley, Ben Flower, Liam Farrell,||T||Joel Monaghan 2, Richie Myler,|
Pat Richards 2,
Brett Hodgson 2,
|Matty Smith,||DG||Lee Briers,|
Attendance: 20,050 Official: P Bentham Venue: DW Stadium
Veteran stand-off Lee Briers landed the 68th drop goal of his Super League career to earn Warrington Wolves a share of the spoils from a bruising and fiery clash at the DW Stadium.
Wigan Warriors scrum-half Matty Smith thought he had won it for the home side when he calmly slotted a drop goal to break the deadlock nine minutes from the end, but the wily Briers had the final say to ensure a draw from a match neither side deserved to lose.
It was too early in the season to expect a classic but the 20,015 crowd was kept on the edge of their seats by a no-holds barred contest.
Wigan deserve great credit for holding the title favourites despite being without more than half of their first-choice pack.
The late withdrawal of Paul Prescott, who failed to recover from a back injury and so joined Harrison Hansen, Chris Tuson and Epalahame Lauaki on the sidelines meant a Super League debut for Greg Burke, four days before his 20th birthday.
Warrington made their trademark blazing start, with winger Joel Monaghan claiming the first of his two tries after only nine minutes, courtesy of Briers' pinpoint pass.
Brett Hodgson's touchline conversion made it 6-0 but the slow-starting Warriors gradually worked their way into the game and stunned the visitors with two tries in eight minutes to go in front.
Centre Darrell Goulding cleverly drew two defenders to give last year's top tryscorer Josh Charnley a run-in at the corner and substitute Ben Flower burst through the Warrington defence after skipper Sean O'Loughlin's offload had created space.
Pat Richards kicked one of his goals to make it 10-6 but the visitors then enjoyed a period of domination and would have capitalised but for a series of handling errors by replacement forward Mike Cooper.
He knocked on three times to ruin promising attacking positions, while centre Rhys Evans was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Richards.
The Warrington pressure told when Charnley failed to take Briers' high kick, after appearing to be tackled prematurely by Ryan Atkins. Once the ball was moved smartly to the right, Hodgson got Monaghan over for his second try.
Hodgson failed with the conversion attempt and Richards edged the home side back in front with a penalty just before half-time but it was Warrington who again made the brighter start to the second period.
Three Wigan defenders were left completely flat-footed by the jinking run of scrum-half Richie Myler, whose try was converted by Hodgson.
Myler went close five minutes later, only to be denied by Tomkins and Wigan were back level after 50 minutes when half-backs Matty Smith and Blake Green combined to get second rower Liam Farrell over for a third try.
With the scores level once more, the tension went up a level and Tomkins was given a warning by referee Phil Bentham as tempers threatened to boil over.
As both sides pushed for the decisive score, Warrington's Simon Grix was held up over the line and Tomkins got across to halt Monaghan at the corner as the winger attempted to complete his hat-trick.
The breakthrough eventually came from Wigan, with Smith making the most of a counter-attack to put over a drop goal which was ultimately cancelled out by Briers, whose kick went in off the left-hand upright.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals