Wigan fought back with four late tries to claim a gutsy last-minute win against Bradford in their Super League clash at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors got off to a perfect start when Josh Charnley crossed in the second minute but that was as good as it got for the home side in yet another poor opening 40 minutes from the league leaders until a second-half fightback and 80th minute score for Chris Tuson saw them home.
Bradford responded to Charnley’s early score with tries from Michael Platt, Adam Sidlow and John Bateman to take a convincing 16-4 lead into the break, and Jamie Foster added a penalty to stretch the advantage.
However, Wigan struck back as Charnley crossed again with Tuson and Iain Thornley also making it over the whitewash. Tuson’s second converted try – with Pat Richards slotting his third goal – sealed victory and meant Foster’s late penalty was of little consequence.
The Warriors hit the front thanks in great part to Ryan Hampshire, who was standing in for full-back Sam Tomkins, as he steamed through a gap before sending Thornley clear who linked up with Charnley for the opening try.
Richards missed the conversion and the Bulls were not behind for long as, just like Wigan, they scored with their first proper attack of the game.
Foster found an overlap down the left and sent Sam Wood racing down the touchline. He drew in Hampshire to allow Platt to touch down and Foster tagged on the extras for a 6-4 lead.
Bradford had the upper hand and when Hampshire failed to hold a Luke Gale bomb, Sidlow was on hand to score, Foster converting.
Bateman then saw off the attention of three Wigan defenders to touch down as Bradford cruised into half time.
The Bulls were awarded a penalty deep in Wigan’s half following a superb 40 metre run from Nick Scruton as Charnley was adjudged to have interfered as the prop tried to play the ball. That gave Foster the chance to extend their lead and he did so for an 18-4 advantage.
Wigan finally broke the visitors down when Hampshire again popped up on the right and he sent in Charnley for his second try of the night, before Farrell broke clean up the middle before sending out a dubious ball for Tuson to race away and score under the posts. Richards converted the latter to trail 18-14.
However, a knock-on deep in their own half looked like undoing all of their hard work and Michael McIlorum was penalised for a spear tackle, Foster slotting over another penalty to push them six points in front.
Hampshire had a ‘try’ ruled out, but Wigan levelled the scores moments later. Thornley juggled a ball from Hampshire before touching down and Richards calmly slotted the extras.
The momentum was with Wigan now, and Tuson kept his composure despite losing his footing before scoring the winning try in the final minute, with Richards converting to seal a 26-20 win.
Wigan: Hampshire, Charnley, Thornley, Gelling, Richards, Green, Smith, Crosby, McIlorum, Dudson, Hansen, Farrell, Tuson. Substitutes: Hughes, A. Powell, Flower, L. Tomkins.
Bradford: Foster, Kear, Purtell, Platt, Wood, Addy, Gale, Scruton, Diskin, Manuokafoa, Bateman, Blythe, Donaldson. Substitutes: L’Estrange, Sidlow, Roberts, Evans.
Referee: T Roby (RFL).