Jackson Hastings showed his steely qualities to secure a first League Leaders Shield for Wigan since 2012 with a 19-6 win over Huddersfield.
Hastings – whose future beyond the end of this season has still to be decided – forced his way over for a crucial try in the second half of a tight tussle. Minutes later the current Steve Prescott Man of Steel kicked perfectly for Zak Hardaker to follow through and touch down.
They proved decisive moments, with Adrian Lam’s side looking nervous at times after last week’s impressive victory over rivals St Helens.
The Warriors had ample possession and field position to win more comfortably, only to be constantly denied by a tenacious Giants side. But Hastings took charge in the final quarter and Wigan will now enjoy a weekend off before a semi-final that could lead to the Grand Final.
Huddersfield finish the campaign in seventh after a series of close defeats all year. But they could still feature in the play-offs as they remain on stand-by for any team struck down by a Covid-19 outbreak in coming weeks.
The two teams were locked together at 6-6 after an attritional first half. Wigan opened the scoring in controversial fashion in the fifth minute.
Hooker Sam Powell was awarded the try by the video referee even though television replays indicated he didn’t ground the ball under the posts in a two-man tackle.
The Warriors had plenty of opportunities to extend their lead during the remainder of the half, only for the Giants defence to stand firm under pressure.
And Huddersfield then moved level at the break. Aidan Sezer’s high kick was spilled by Bevan French and substitute Sam Wood pounced to score.
Wigan started the second half on the front foot and Oliver Gildart looked a certain scorer until losing the ball in Jermaine McGillvary’s last ditch tackle.
The Giants’ resistance eventually broke just after the hour mark. After another period of Warriors dominance, Hastings followed Powell’s lead by plunging over from dummy half – with no doubt over the grounding this time.
Moments later his weighted kick to the in goal was touched down by Hardaker to quickly open up a 12-point lead. That was always likely to be enough in worsening conditions, and Hastings made sure with a drop goal in the closing stages.
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