Friday Flashback: Wigan v Warrington, March 2001

As part of our previews to each of the two big Super League play-off games this weekend, we’re taking you back down memory lane to go back over a classic encounter between the two sides in question.

Yesterday, we previewed St Helens v Catalan Dragons by looking at the classic game at Langtree Park from two years ago, which saw Catalan snatch victory in the most dramatic manner possible.

And whilst yesterday’s throwback was all about drama, this one is all about physicality, as we go back to 2001, and perhaps the most brutal game in Super League history. It was the opening round of the season, and a game that wasn’t even supposed to be on TV initially – as Wigan locked horns with Warrington at the DW Stadium.

It was certainly intense from the first tackle, and it took less than half an hour for Warrington to be reduced to 12 men. Toa Kohe-Love was the man who received his marching orders, after being sent off for a number of high shots on Wigan’s Steve Renouf.


By the time the second 40 minutes had kicked off, Wigan had built up a healthy lead with their man advantage, leading 24-6. However, the brutal action didn’t slow down, as both sides erupted into a number of huge brawls – with Wigan’s Francis Stephenson and Warrington’s Danny Nutley squaring up in spectacular fashion.

Referee Steve Ganson was reluctant to send anyone else from the field, but the fights kept on coming, with Warrington’s Tawera Nikau certainly not taking a backward step at any point. By this point Wigan were 34-6 up and cruising, and the brawls were arguably the biggest entertainment – despite Sky’s Eddie Hemmings clearly displeased at what was playing out.

And after Nikau delivered a booming high shot in a tackle, Ganson had seen enough – and reduced Warrington to 11 men! The video above shows you all you need to know from a bruising first game of the 2001 season, but tonight will see the final game of either Wigan or Warrington’s 2014 season.

Who will win? That’s a question that is genuinely to close to call, but hopefully it won’t be as brutal as this!