Wigan Warriors got 2015 off to a stuttering start as they were pegged back by 12-man Widnes Vikings in the opening Super League fixture on Thursday.
The Warriors raced into a 16-6 lead before half time at The Select Security Stadium, with Widnes also having Patrick Ah Van sent off.
But the hosts responded well after the interval, and despite falling further behind after Joe Burgess’ try fought back to snatch a point in the dying embers of the game, much to the ire of coach Shaun Wane.
“We gave them eight penalties in the second half, right or wrong they got eight penalties and we put ourselves in a bad position,” he said.
“We invited them into areas where they could score tries. We were dumb. We needed to be squeaky clean and we weren’t.
“We have to win these games, it was a must win game and our finishing was slack. We need to be smarter and we weren’t smart enough today.”
Joel Tomkins, who earlier this week stressed the importance of a winning start to MM, put the visitors ahead just eight minutes into proceedings when he was played through by George Williams, though Matty Smith missed the resulting conversion.
Ah Van then had a try correctly ruled out as Widnes pressed for an immediate response, before Anthony Gelling’s try extended Wigan’s lead.
And matters were made worse for Widnes when Ah Van saw red for a head-high tackle on Josh Charnley – who had to be taken off with concussion.
The injury seemed to have little effect on the Warriors however as Gelling again dived over a few minutes later, with Smith adding the extras to make it 16-0, though Joe Mellor did score for Widnes just prior to half time.
Widnes came out strong in the second half, with Rhys Hanbury closing Wigan’s lead to just four points.
Wane’s side recovered however, and Burgess soon restored the ten-point advantage.
However, Widnes refused to give in and, after Cameron Phelps had slid over in the corner, Chris Dean grabbed the equalizing try three minutes from time.
Main image courtesy of White Line Fever TV via YouTube, with thanks.