Wigan coach Shaun Wane says criticism of his team’s recent Super League win over Castleford provided them with extra motivation for their 26-12 Challenge Cup victory over the Yorkshiremen.
Wane does not believe the Warriors received enough credit for their 33-26 triumph at the Jungle a month ago, which was overshadowed by Castleford coach Daryl Powell’s hard-hitting comments about referee Ben Thaler.
The Wigan boss was also angered by Powell’s decision not to include Luke Gale in his initial 19-man squad for Saturday’s tie, with the scrum-half playing after passing a fitness test on Friday.
“The last time we played Cas at Cas we were accused of being lucky winners and the referee won the game,” Wane said.
“We were disappointed with some of the comments.
“Sometimes you hold your hands up and say ‘well done’ to the winning team.
“Our players were very, very motivated. They named a 19-man squad without Luke Gale and they made a change, which is illegal.
“So there were a few things that went on that were poor which motivated our players.
“We went into that game hell bent on winning it and you could tell with that first 40 minutes.”
Wigan never looked back after Dan Sarginson and Sam Tomkins scored tries inside the first 13 minutes while winger Josh Charnley added two more before half-time, when they led 22-0. And Wane added: “I was very happy with the first half.
“We had 100 per cent completion, it was by far our best 40 minutes of the season.
“Sam Tomkins was great today, even when he didn’t have the ball. He just creates chances for others. We just went away from that. We gave 13 penalties away and I thought three were justified.”
Castleford rallied in the second half and scored tries through Gale and Ben Crooks, with Dom Manfredi adding a fifth for Wigan.
But coach Powell admitted his side paid the price for a poor start: “We didn’t start great. They shifted the ball to our left and found some space. It was a really disappointing first half. To be 22-0 down is a tough ask.
“We certainly didn’t handle their physical challenge and defensively we let ourselves down at times. We created enough opportunities to win a couple of games but I thought Wigan’s defence was very good.”
Powell was forced to make a late change when centre Jake Webster pulled out after the warm-up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Greg Minikin, making his first appearance for two months.
“We thought he would be okay but he felt it in the warm-up and we had to make an adjustment which is not ideal, but I actually thought Greg Minikin was one of our best players so there’s no excuses there,” Powell said. Castleford will now turn their main focus of attention to Super League and cementing their place in the top eight, starting with Friday’s visit to Salford.
“We’ve got to fix ourselves up and move on,” said Powell. “We’ve got to refocus on the next four games, and we’re going to need to go on a run of significant proportions to give ourselves a chance but it’s ‘doable’. We need to find a different mentally in the way we defend.”