Wigan overcame the dismissal of Ben Flower to snatch a dramatic 35-28 win over Warrington and ensure the battle for the League Leaders’ Shield will go down to the final weekend of the Super League season.
The Wolves looked to have wrapped up the trophy, which was made ready for presentation at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, when Flower was sent off for a late tackle on Warrington half-back Dec Patton on 56 minutes.
Warrington were already holding a 28-14 lead but the 12-man Warriors battled back with three tries in 14 minutes through wingers Josh Charnley and Lewis Tierney to tie the scores.
Matty Smith then edged his side in front with five minutes to go and, as the home side pushed for victory, centre Anthony Gelling settled a pulsating affair with an interception try.
Warrington still lead by a point and will finish top if they beat second-placed Hull at the KCOM Stadium next Friday, while Wigan look to have earned themselves a home semi-final with a second successive late fightback following their heroics against Hull a week earlier.
Beaten twice in the regular season by their hosts, Wigan made the perfect start with Tierney taking George Williams’s cut-out pass to cross for the first try.
Smith extended Wigan’s lead with two penalties, making up for a failed conversion, and after the Wolves had gone close through Joe Westerman and Rhys Evans he added a second midway through the first half to take the score to 8-0.
The home side gradually grew into the game and pulled a try back via winger Matty Russell.
Centre Toby King made the running for Gidley’s try and older brother George got Hill charging through a wrong-footed Wigan defence for his side’s third touchdown three minutes later.
Two conversions from Patton made it 16-8 but the Warriors struck on the stroke of half-time when full-back Sam Tomkins burrowed his way over from dummy half.
Smith’s third goal cut the deficit to just two points.
It took them only five minutes to increase their lead, the influential Gidley putting Westerman through a hole in the Warriors defence, and four minutes later he repeated the feat to get second rower Ben Currie over.
Patton added both conversions to make it 28-14 and there seemed no way back for Wigan when they were permanently reduced to 12 men with the dismissal of Flower.
But Wigan responded magnificently to set-up a thrilling climax in Hull next Friday.