Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane praised his youngsters for seeing off Widnes Vikings in dramatic fashion at Halton with Lewis Tierney, son of legend Jason Robinson, making a try-scoring debut.
A Patrick Ah Van hat-trick and scores for Adam Lawton, Frank Winterstein and Rhys Hanbury had Widnes leading into the final quarter-of-an-hour despite tries for Logan Tomkins, Josh Charnley and Tierney.
But a late Scott Taylor score added to a second for Anthony Gelling as Wigan equalled a club record 11-match Super League unbeaten run, much to Wane’s delight.
“It was a great a win,” he said “I’m happy with what we did with the ball when we had it.
“I’m absolutely fuming about some poor decisions but I’m trying not to let that affect the win.
“It was a great two points with the team we had out and it shows the quality and the depth in our club.
“I’m very proud, and very happy for the youngsters who made their debuts – I’m pumped for the players.”
Wigan edged ahead inside three minutes when Tomkins – brother of injured fullback Sam – crashed over with a simple scoot from dummy-half, but Ah Van reduced the deficit four minutes later.
Tierney finish off a smart Warriors move on 14 minutes to emulate his legendary dad – who also scored on his debut aged 18 – as Charnley kicked his second successful conversion.
A well-paced kick from Powell saw Gelling extend Wigan’s lead to 12 points after 22 minutes, capitalising on a timely missed catch from Widnes fullback Jack Owens.
But the Vikings reduced the gap with a stunning team try six minutes later, replacement Layton touching down between the sticks following a fantastic break from Hanbury.
The fullback was on hand again three minutes before the break, kicking through to Owens whose clever pass allowed Winterstein to score – Owens’ second successful kick then levelled the scores at half-time.
Wigan regained the lead once more three minutes after the break as Charnley sprinted the full length of the pitch before converting his own try from in front of the sticks.
But Hanbury – the only Viking to be named in Brain McClennan’s Exiles squad – produced a magical sidestep to score his own try on the 50-minute mark before Owens’ kick equalled things up again.
Ah Van ran over for his second six minutes later to give Widnes the lead for the first time in the game, before Wigan levelled the match once more as Gelling grabbed his second on 67 minutes.
Sam Powell nudged Wigan ahead on the 70-minute mark with an impossible drop-goal, before playing Taylor in to score as the visitors looked to have secured the win.
But the hosts set up a grandstand finish when Ah Van completed his hat-trick with two minutes to go, as Owens’ fourth goal brought Widnes to within a point of the Warriors.
Wigan, beaten by a single point in the same fixture last year, had nine first team players out through injury as Wane played the club’s youngest ever-side – averaging less than 22-years-old.
And Tierney, one of two debutantes alongside Ryan Hampshire, was delighted to start his Wigan career on the scoresheet.
“That was the icing on the cake, it definitely released a few nerves,” he said.
“It was a good try, I was really happy with it. Iain Thornley got a good tip-on so I thanked him for that afterwards.
“It’d be good to get another but I’m not really focusing on that at the moment.
“I’m just looking at getting my head down in training and keep working hard and hopefully if I’m doing the right things then I will get another shot.”
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