17th June 2017, 17:36 | Wigan
Wigan Warriors became the third team to secure their place in the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup following a nail-biting 27-26 victory over Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The visitors raced into a 12-0 lead courtesy of two tries from winger Joe Burgess before the Wolves responded through Ryan Atkins' double to level the scores. Liam Marshall restored a six-point advantage for the Warriors with a try three minutes before the half-time interval.
George Williams added a penalty at the start of the second half to put Wigan 20-12 up before Andre Savelio powered over and a Declan Patton penalty reduced the gap to two points for Warrington. John Bateman, in his first match back from a lengthy suspension, crossed for the Warriors with Williams kicking his fifth goal of the match to extend their advantage to 26-20.
Sam Tomkins landed a drop-goal with seven minutes remaining to all but seal the match for Wigan but Warrington hit back. A converted Kurt Gidley try brought the scores to within one point for the hosts before Stefan Ratchford missed a long-range penalty with one minute left on the clock and Patton's final buzzer drop-goal drifted well wide.
Wigan, who occupy eighth place in Betfred Super League, hope to reach the Wembley final for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2013 and join Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos in the hat for the Sunday's semi-final draw, which takes place after the final quarter-final between league leaders Castleford Tigers and reigning champions Hull FC.
Warriors head coach Shaun Wane hailed returning full-back Tomkins, whose late one-pointer ensured Wigan remain on course for a 20th Challenge cup crown.
Wane said: "He never kicks a drop goal, ever, but what we love about him is he is very competitive. He wants to win.
"He just showed there he wants to win games and he has done that since he was eight. I've done nothing to help that, it is just him, and he did a great job today."
On the team performance, he added: "It was a frustrating one. I think we deserved to win the game but credit to Warrington, they're pretty busted and low on confidence but they really pushed us.
"It was just one of those where you want to win the game whether it's ugly or pretty."
Warrington counterpart Tony Smith praised his side's effort in defeat - with them now focusing their attention on securing a top-eight finish in Super League.
"There wasn't much between us. There were a few too many errors but I thought Wigan were similar.
"They'd invite us into the game and then we'd invite them into the game, but in terms of effort, character, fight, spirit, there was plenty of it from my boys."
Smith also felt it would be unfair to blame Ratchford for missing the late penalty.
He said: "I'm not going to put it on Stef. It wasn't down to any one person. There were opportunities for us to take throughout that game and we didn't take them."