12-man Wigan Warriors Keep Back-To-Back Challenge Cup Dream Alive With Epic Win

Can Wigan win the Challenge Cup again?
16:36, 18 Jun 2023

12-man Wigan Warriors kept their dreams of retaining the Betfred Challenge Cup alive after a phenomenal 14-12 win over rivals Warrington Wolves. It seemed unlikely when Kaide Ellis was red carded after just six minutes and 42 seconds following a headbutt, but this Wigan side backed by a huge crowd defied the odds to out-battle Warrington over 80 minutes. 

Despite the frayed tempers on the pitch and the hostile atmosphere, it was the home side that rallied with a man down. Warrington fluffed a restart to hand the hosts possession and a cross-field kick was batted back to Toby King and against his parent club he managed to touch the ball down over the whitewash. 

King against his parent club, bagged the opening try to change the dynamic of the game, but it wasn’t as if Warrington were using the extra man to their advantage. Instead they were horrendously wasteful with the ball, unable to keep possession or get out of their own half for the majority of the first half. 

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Harry Smith added two more points for Wigan after a penalty and they kept on coming. Jai Field chased after a kick and shuffled the ball out wide to Liam Marshall but Josh Thewlis made a perfect challenge to deny a certain try. 

Warrington became more adventurous as the the hooter neared but they were 8-0 at half-time as the Wigan crowd roared every challenge. But this tie of the ages was still well and truly in the balance. 

Warrington pushed hard at the start of the second period and having been denied one try, they finally got over through Joe Bullock as he took advantage of their field position to bundle over from three yards. Stefan Ratchford added the extras and all of a sudden the visitors, backed by their vocal following, were back in the game.  

However, Abbas Miski had different ideas. French shoved the ball out to him first time and under pressure from a defender and the touchline, he dived for the corner and got the ball down in spectacular fashion. Harry Smith nailed the conversion to put Wigan 14-6 up and the flow of the game changed once again. 

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This was the beauty of this quarter-final. Every minute provided another opportunity for the pendulum to swing, and it so readily did. Matt Dufty thought he had pulled one back but he’d landed on his elbows before the try line before moving again over it. However, with eight minutes to go Daryl Powell’s side did get a try back thanks to Thewlis. 

He was left wide open on the right before calmly getting the ball over the line, as Ratchford added the extra two to make it 14-12 heading into the closing stages. Wigan looked to be in control before a mistake gave Warrington a fresh set of six in the final third. 

They thought they’d got the win when Thewlis crossed but the pass went forward and that was that for the Wolves hopes as Wigan held out. That team in cherry and white fought with every sinew and despite being a man down for practically the entire game, they found a way to win. Wigan have kept their dreams of a title defence at Wembley alive in the most dramatic style. 

What a game. What a sport. Hull KR await in the semi-finals for Wigan. 

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