Super League: Wakefield Trinity 22-23 Wigan Warriors

Zak Hardaker runs in a try for Wigan
Zak Hardaker scored Wigan's first points of the resumption of the Super League season
Betfred Super League
Wakefield (6) 22
Tries: Wood, Johnstone, Kay 2 Goals: Gigot 2, Jowitt
Wigan (16) 23
Tries: Hardaker, French, Marshall, Bibby Goals: Hardaker 3 Drop-goal: Smith

Wigan Warriors survived a Wakefield Trinity comeback to move top of Super League and pick up their fifth victory of the season on their restart.

Zak Hardaker, Bevan French and Liam Marshall tries built a 16-6 half-time lead, with Kyle Wood's try and a Tony Gigot penalty goal on debut in reply.

Jake Bibby's try gave the Warriors a 16-point lead but Tom Johnstone's superb aerial finish reduced arrears.

Liam Kay scored twice as Trinity pushed but Harry Smith's drop-goal proved key.

Hero Smith was only introduced into the game on the back of Thomas Leuluai's early knock and turned in a match-winning performance, in particular nailing an ice-cool drop-goal with minutes left to keep Wakefield at bay.

This win was a huge boost to Adrian Lam's side after their pre-lockdown loss to Salford, while Wakefield will take heart from their fightback but they remain ninth with just two wins.

There was a poignant moment before kick-off when Wigan's French and Wakefield prop David Fifita both took a knee for Black Lives Matter draped under an indigenous Australian Aboriginal flag.

Wakefield v Wigan
Wakefield's players stayed standing while team-mate David Fifita took a knee for Black Lives Matter alongside Wigan's Bevan French, with both draped in an indigenous Australian Aboriginal flag

With all the law changes and the lack of match action, this game was frantic at times but the difference in the end was execution.

Wigan for the most part finished their chances as Hardaker went in from a Smith pass while French, who later limped off, picked off a Hardaker kick to add to the lead.

There was a hint of Trinity's endeavour when Wood sniped in from acting half but Marshall was alert to Jackson Hastings' kick to touch down in response.

Wakefield were well down on the board when Bibby muscled in - although his finish was not conclusive on the replay - but they found resolve late on to drag themselves into the game.

Johnstone soared over the top of French, clawing a Gigot kick out of the air to score - a finish made even more impressive by an arm injury sustained earlier in the game.

Kay made his second debut after his move from Toronto a memorable one with scores out wide but it was not enough for Wakefield to take it to golden point as Smith's drop proved a priceless buffer.

Post-match reaction

Wakefield coach Chris Chester:

"I'm really disappointed to lose the game. I just thought we gave them far too much respect in the first half.

"The talk all week was not about the new rules but making sure we completed high in the first half and we failed to do that.

"Some guys were guilty of trying to over-play but obviously I'm happy and proud of the effort. It was a tale of two halves. We needed to control ball a lot better than we did do in the first half and ultimately it cost us.

"We showed when we move the ball around we're a hard team to beat. There was very little to choose between the teams.

"Wigan's game management was probably a bit better than ours today. It's fine margins, we were a little bit off in certain areas."

Wigan coach Adrian Lam:

"I'm pretty happy. I know it got a little bit tense towards the end but for the majority of the game it felt pretty safe. l thought the effort was great in a lot of areas, there are a lot of positives."

Wakefield Trinity: Gigot, Kay, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Jowitt, Kopczak, Wood, Navarrette, Pitts, Tanginoa, Arona.

Interchanges: Wood, Tangata, Kirmond, Fifita.

Wigan Warriors: French, Manfredi, Hardaker, Bibby, Marshall, Leuluai, Hastings, Bullock, Powell, Byrne, Isa, Farrell, Havard.

Interchanges: Burgess, Clark, Smith, Smithies.

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