Wigan Warriors 12-18 Widnes Vikings

Widnes Vikings celebrate

Matt Whitley’s try started the Widnes fightback

Widnes Vikings remain top of Super League with a comeback victory at third-placed Wigan Warriors.

The hosts led 8-0 and seemed in control at half-time thanks to tries from Liam Farrell and Josh Charnley.

Matt Whitley reduced the arrears just after the break, before Charnley ran in for his second try and Wigan looked set to replace Widnes at the top.

But two tries in two minutes from Stefan Marsh and Charly Runciman saw Widnes go two points clear at the top.

The victory made it a best-ever start to a Super League season for Widnes and inflicted a first home Super League defeat on Wigan for 21 months.

Wigan took the lead when Farrell intercepted Joe Mellor’s pass to run 70 yards to score, but Matty Smith pulled his conversion to the left.

Wigan forced a way to the line for their second try and Dan Sarginson’s pass found Charnley to roll over in the left-hand corner, although Smith’s attempt at goal drifted to the right.

Warriors’ eight-point half-time lead was cut to two when a great pass from Mellor saw Matt Whitley go over and Rhys Hanbury added the extras.

Corey Thompson fumbled with Widnes approaching the try-line and Wigan made them pay as Charnley ran in for his second after Widnes allowed a high kick to bounce.

Two tries in two minutes turned the game on its head as Marsh ran in on the left-hand side, followed by Hanbury splitting the Wigan defence to send Runciman in to score under the posts.

Hanbury’s conversion stretched the visitors’ lead to four points and then added a penalty to make it 18-12 – and secure Widnes a sixth win in seven matches.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane:

“They were good for the win. They’re the best team in the comp and, if you make defensive errors and give them field position, they’re going to burn you.

“They stayed with us a long time and I knew eight points were not going to be enough.

“We went away from our system, which is disappointing. We had a good record here and that’s gone, and in a cheap way. It’s hard to take.

“Their last plays were better than ours but we fixed it a bit in the second half and, if we had been a bit smarter, we would have got the game.

“But in the end the best team won.”

Widnes coach Denis Betts:

“It’s hard not to say it’s a fantastic night for the club and the players. We’ve had some tough days here.

“We looked a bit uncomfortable at times but we rode that and showed a lot of character and belief.

“It was an emotional day for us – there are a lot of ex-Wigan players in the group. Emotion burns energy very quickly and we looked shot after 20 minutes.

“But when we came in at half-time we tried to take the emotion out of the game and our composure was better in the second half.”

Wigan: Sarginson, Manfredi, Gelling, Gildart, Charnley, O’Loughlin, Smith, Clubb, Powell, Flower, Farrell, Bateman, Tautai.

Replacements: Mossop, Sutton, Burke, Gregson.

Widnes: Hanbury, Thompson, Dean, Runciman, Marsh, Mellor, Brown, O’Carroll, Heremaia, Dudson, Sa, Houston, Cahill.

Replacements: Manuokafoa, Gerrard, Leuluai, Whitley.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (RFL).

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