Warriors cruise past Wildcats
Wigan skipper Sean O'Loughlin justified his selection with two of his side's nine tries as the Warriors beat Wakefield 46-24 on Sunday.
The England loose forward was one of just nine players retained from the team that lost the World Club Challenge to Sydney Roosters after persuading coach Shaun Wane not to rest him and he responded with a superb display.
O'Loughlin was withdrawn three minutes into the second half, with the Warriors 30-12 in front, and they continued to dominate in his absence, showing few signs of jetlag following their return from Australia.
Dom Manfredi and John Bateman both scored their first tries for Wigan while 19-year-old Joe Burgess, the only outside back to keep his place from Sydney, provided the highlight with a glorious long-range solo score.
The result leaves Wakefield without a win and it amounted to a double disappointment for chairman Michael Carter, a Sunderland fan who opted to go to Wembley rather than the DW Stadium.
Like Sunderland, the Wildcats threatened to pull off an upset as they went in front when Jarrod Sammut converted second-rower Ali Lauitiiti's 14th-minute close-range try.
But the lead lasted only three minutes as Wigan struck a purple patch, scoring five tries in 15 minutes to kill the game as a contest.
Wakefield were forced to play Lucas Walshaw, a one-time centre, in the front row in the absence of three specialist props through injury and they gave debuts to teenagers Luke Briscoe and Jordan Crowther, who became the youngest forward to play in the club's history just 11 days after turning 17.
The Warriors looked the livelier side from the start and right winger Manfredi opened the scoring on four minutes.
Lauitiiti barged over from 10 metres out to give the visitors hope but skipper Danny Kirmond's knock-on gifted Wigan a glorious attacking platform and they made the most of it when stand-off Blake Green got centre Iain Thornley charging through a gap for his side's second try.
O'Loughlin then supported a break from halfway by scrum-half Matty Smith to score his first try, adding a second within six minutes courtesy of a jinking run.
Wakefield could not get their hands on the ball and were punished further when Ryan Hampshire touched down Green's crossfield kick and when second-rower Bateman took Logan Tomkins' pass to score.
Smith succeeded with just three of his six conversion attempts and Wakefield struck back either side of half-time to cut the deficit to 12 points.
A 90-metre break out of defence by Sammut set up the position for Kirmond to crash over five minutes before the break and Pita Godinet's interception got winger Peter Fox over four minutes into the second half.
The champions never looked like relinquishing their grip on the game, however, and prop Ben Flower forced his way over for a seventh try on 49 minutes and Smith's fourth goal made it 36-18.
Burgess then provided the highlight for the home fans with a glorious 70-metre break for his solo try and England second rower Liam Farrell proved unstoppable as he charged over for Wigan's ninth try.
Wakefield, who lost Kirmond for the last quarter with a leg injury, were down to 12 men by then following the sin-binning of full-back Richard Mathers for taking out Hampshire off the ball.
The Wildcats were well beaten but they had the final score when left winger Reece Lyne raced 90 metres for a fourth try and Sammut maintained his accuracy with his fourth goal.