Widnes Vikings 37-36 Wigan Warriors

Lloyd White

Bottom side Widnes won a thriller to claim a first victory in Super League XVII as weakened Wigan missed the chance to take over at the top.

Without skipper Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Thomas Leuluai and Liam Farrell, Wigan twice let big leads slip as Widnes battled back.

Shaun Briscoe ran in two tries, while Paddy Flynn, Stefan Marsh, Lloyd White and Frankie Winterstein also crossed.

But it was White's drop-goal 10 minutes from time that proved the matchwinner.

Having started the day looking to cash in on Warrington's slip-up at Leeds on Friday night, Wigan's defeat actually saw them slip to third, Huddersfield taking over as the new Super League leaders.

Defeat came at a further cost for Wigan, who lost Darrell Goulding with concussion, while Lee Mossop faces a scan on an ankle injury.

But it was a great day for all the Wigan old boys in the victorious Vikings dressing room - two-try hero Briscoe, Marsh, debutant Cameron Phelps, Dave Allen, Jon Clarke and Ben Davies, not to mention coach Denis Betts.

After five straight defeats since his side's return to the top flight, Betts was at last able to give debuts to both Phelps and Sione Kite, as well as on-loan Warrington scrum-half Gareth O'Brien, who kicked all his side's six goals.

Despite choosing to give a debut to four youngsters - Matt Russell, Joe Mellor, Anthony Gelling and Logan Tomkins - it looked like it might be one-way traffic when Gareth Hock and Harrison Hansen helped to carve out Wigan a 12-0 lead inside the first six minutes.

Then, after Flynn pulled one back, 18-year-old full-back Russell restored Wigan's 12-point cushion with the first of his two tries, only for Wigan old boys Marsh and Briscoe to level it again at 18-18 at the break.

Three tries in five second minutes early in the second half from Brett Finch, Mellor and fellow debutant Russell seemed to have settled the outcome, stand-in kicker Josh Charnley kicking all three goals to take his tally to six out of six and earn his side a surely unassailable 36-18 lead.

But, on the ground where Wigan's Super League hopes ended last season, at the hands of Stobart Stadium tenants St Helens, Widnes showed they were not beaten.

Substitute White began the revival by going over before Briscoe bagged his second try and Winterstein battered his way through to complete a triple salvo of tries in one 10-minute blitz.

O'Brien kicked all three, taking his tally to six out of six before White kept his cool to win it for Widnes with a 30-metre drop-goal.

Stand-in kicker Charnley missed a late chance to rescue Wigan with a penalty but, after being roared back into the contest by a vociferous crowd, it would have been an injustice had Widnes lost.

Widnes stay bottom, level on two points with London Broncos, who also claimed their first victory, Wakefield and Castleford.


Widnes coach Denis Betts:

"It's been hard to see the fans suffer, but this was a top performance and now we have to try and maintain this high intensity. We all feel better but know wins aren't going to fall into our laps. We have to work hard.

"If I am totally honest I would have probably done the same thing as Shaun. He has a big squad and has to expose the young lads at this level. He took a risk but fortunately we came out with a win.

"Gareth O'Brien is a fantastic player and showed his class and Sione Kite gave us punch up front. And Lloyd White has a great future ahead. He got into a good position to drop the goal. And we had a little bit of luck at the end. Charnley's kick was one of his simplest of the day."

Wigan coach Shaun Wane told BBC Radio Manchester:

"We did not underestimate Widnes. They are a good team and were going to click at some stage. There is no excuse, Widnes played well and we didn't. They deserved to win and we did not keep the pressure on.

"I needed to rest a couple of players and I needed to find out about a couple of our juniors, and I've done that and we've learnt a lesson. We need to be stronger and better as a group and I was disappointed with our defence. We can defend better than that. Gaz Hock and Michael McIlorum had a real dig but we clocked off defensively.

"When we come as a club, potentially going top of the league, teams are going to lift their game and that is what they did. That team I picked was 100% capable of winning that game. We were poor. They were just very, very good."


Widnes: Briscoe; Flynn, Marsh, Phelps, Isa; O'Brien, Craven; Pickersgill, Clarke, Davies, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill.

Replacements: White, Finnigan, Kite, Mullally.

Wigan: Russell; Gelling, Goulding, Hughes, Charnley; Finch, Mellor; Lima, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, Tuson.

Replacements: Lauaki, Flower, L Tomkins, Spencer.

Attendance: 7,357.

Referee: Rob Hicks (Oldham).

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