Wigan remain in pole position to claim a home semi-final as they recorded a hard-fought 24-22 win over Castleford in their Super 8s opener.
The Warriors totally outplayed Castleford in the opening 40 minutes and ran in four unopposed tries in front of next season’s head coach Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards, who will then be in charge from 2020.
It took just five minutes for Wigan to open the scoring with Liam Marshall going over before Gabe Hamlin extended their lead 10 minutes later. Two more tries in the final 12 minutes from Dan Sarginson and Ryan Sutton put their lead out to 20 points.
It was the Tigers who dominated the second period with Jamie Ellis causing all kinds of problems with his kicking game.
The visitors crossed for four tries thanks to Jake Trueman, James Clare, Paul McShane and Mitch Clark but it was not enough as Sam Tomkins’ late penalty proved to be the difference.
The Warriors got off to a dream start with a try inside the opening five minutes. George Williams, who was returning from a knee injury, put over a deft kick for Liam Marshall to hack on and touch down for a 4-0 lead.
Wigan were dominating matters and Romain Navarrete made a break up the middle but he chose the wrong option and went left instead of right –had he gone right the Warriors would have scored.
Castleford were their own worst enemy as they struggled to keep hold of the ball, the home side took full advantage with Hamlin barging through the attempted tackles of Greg Eden and McShane to score.
Wigan thought they had extended their lead after 20 minutes when Marshall grounded a kick through from Tomkins, but the video referee correctly ruled that Joe Greenwood had knocked the ball on before the ball got to the winger.
The video referee was called into action again when Joe Wardle appeared to go over in the corner, on closer inspection the centre dropped the ball and the try was chalked off.
Wigan completed an almost perfect 40 minutes with two more tries with Sarginson completing a neat passing move by going over in the corner, before Sutton collected the scraps from a Thomas Leuluai kick to go over and help the Warriors lead 20-0 at half-time.
Castleford managed to cross over for their first score four minutes after break with Trueman taking advantage of some poor line defence from Wigan to score to make it 20-4. A penalty from Morgan Escare edged the Warriors even further ahead.
The Tigers refused to lie down and again they showed how dangerous they can be with Clare collecting a high kick from Ellis to touch down in the corner and only trail by 12.
The deficit was then cut to just six points when Ellis, who was tormenting Wigan with his kicks, saw one come back off the post and straight to McShane who just had to touch it down to make it 22-16.
A high tackle from Mike McMeeken on Greenwood sealed Castleford’s fate as Tomkins made no mistake in kicking the two to extend their lead to eight points with four minutes remaining.
The Tigers did have the final say with Clark capitalising on a Tomkins error of judgement, but it was not enough.
Wigan: Tomkins, Davies, Isa, Sarginson, L. Marshall, Williams, Leuluai, Navarrete, Powell, Flower, Greenwood, Bateman, Hamlin. Subs: Escare, Clubb, Sutton, Partington.
Castleford: Eden, Gill, Wardle, Shenton, Clare, Ellis, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Webster, Moors, Milner, Clark.
Referee: James Child (Batley).