Wigan winger Joe Burgess left it until the 79th minute to snatch a 16-12 victory for his side in a hard fought contest tonight at the DW Stadium against Warrington Wolves.
That Wigan would struggle to suppress the challenge of the Wolves looked unlikely early in the game, as they applied relentless pressure on the Warrington defence.
They went ahead after six minutes with a Matty Smith penalty, and in the first 20 minutes they got several repeat tackle sets, but they only came near to scoring when Liam Farrell got over the line but couldn’t touch down after 13 minutes.
They finally increased their lead ten minutes later, however, when Joel Tomkins backed up a superb break from Blake Green to touch down under the posts, with Smith’s goal giving Wigan an eight-point advantage.
But from that point onwards Warrington started to come into the game, and Wigan began to make errors.
And after 38 minutes the Wolves opened their account, when Joel Monaghan touched down when a pass rebounded off a Warrington player and the Wigan defence hesitated momentarily, thinking it was a knock-on.
Stefan Ratchford couldn’t add the penalty, and just as the hooter was about to sound Rhys Evans just managed to foil Josh Charnley touching down a kick to the Warrington line.
Early in the second half Wigan gave away a series of penalties, and Gareth O’Brien was able to take advantage, following up his own kick to score, converting his own try to give his side the lead for the first time.
Wigan snatched the lead back, however, on 54 minutes with a fine try from Anthony Gelling, created by a great pass from Smith, although the Wigan halfback couldn’t add the goal.
The Wolves drew level when Liam Farrell conceded a penalty on Micky Higham on 64 minutes, and the game was set for a grandstand finish.
Both sides missed field-goal attempts, and Dan Sarginson touched down, but was brought back for a forward pass, before Burgess finally broke the deadlock with just over 90 seconds remaining.
Wigan now go to Old Trafford next Saturday to defend the title they won last season against their bitter rivals St Helens.
A full report, photographs and analysis will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.