Wigan Warriors opened the Super League season with victory as they overcame 12-man Warrington 16-10.
Bevan French, playing at fullback ahead of Zak Hardaker, starred as he scored one and set another up against a Warrington side that played more than half the game with 12-men after Chris Hill was sent off for a high tackle on Wigan hooker Sam Powell, who was forced off on a stretcher as a reuslt.
Warrington CEO Karl Fitzpatrick had boastfully claimed the Wolves would do a clean sweep over Wigan this year, but now await their first win of the season after falling to the Warriors.
The clubs cancelled a joint press conference in the build-up to this due to the ‘current climate’ between the two clubs. That spilt on to the pitch with both teams fiery from the off.
George Burgess, one of Wigan’s marquee signings, endured a difficult debut, lasting just 16 minutes and being powered over by Ben Murdoch-Masila for the opening try of the game as the Tonga international rampaged to the line.
That try made in 8-0 after two Stefan Ratchford goals, but French came to the fore with a dazzling indvidual effort under the sticks.
Minutes later, Jackson Hastings put Powell to the line but he was met by a high tackle from Hill that appeared to knock the Wigan man unconcious. That saw a penalty try awarded and Hill dismissed.
Warrington, whose debutant Matty Ashton impressed immensely in his first outing, stuck in the contest and cut the arrears to two points with another Ratchford penalty goal.
The second-half was a tight affair with Warrington threatening a fightback despite their numerical disadvantage and were on the wrong end of a decision from referee Chris Kendall, who missed a Joe Burgess knock-on from a Jason Clark kick.
Warrington were temporarily down to 11-men when Mike Cooper was sin-binned for a professional foul on French, and Wigan capitalised as French produced a stunning cut-out pass to put Liam Marshall to the line.
The Wolves pushed for a try to level the game, but Wigan stood firm.
Wigan Warriors: French; Marshall, Hardaker, Bibby, Burgess; Leuluai, Hastings; Partington, Powell, Burgess, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Byrne, Clubb, Havard, Smithies.
Warrington Wolves: Austin; Ratchford, Lineham, King, Gelling; Charnley, Ashton; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Murdoch-Masila, Clark. Subs: Philbin, Akauola, Walker, Burrell.