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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Wolves and Warriors set for another close battle

Wigan beat Warrington by a point last season

Wigan's Sam Tomkins
1 of 1

Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final
BBC One, 2.30pm Saturday

Warrington versus Wigan is unquestionably the pick of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-finals with neutrals no doubt hoping for a repeat of last season’s nail-biter at the same stage.

The Warriors scraped home 27-26 after the Wolves dramatically missed a penalty and a drop goal in the dying seconds.

This eagerly awaited rematch is a real head-scratcher for punters and bookmakers are anticipating another tight tie.

The visitors are fractional favourites and anyone who witnessed Wigan’s 38-10 drubbing of Warrington at the Magic Weekend a fortnight ago could be forgiven for considering them a five-star wager.

However, two weeks is a long time in rugby league.

Warriors boss Shaun Wane has since made the shock announcement that he’ll be leaving the club at the end of the season and his team subsequently collapsed to 24-8 defeat at struggling Hull KR.

On the same evening, the Wolves were absolutely abject for 40 minutes at home to injury-hit Hull before getting their act together after the break to win going away by 30-12.

Both teams are close to full strength for this tie with Warrington able to recall Bryson Goodwin, Mike Cooper and Sitaleki Akauola and Wigan welcoming back captain Sean O’Loughlin, Oliver Gildart and Thomas Leuluai.

There appear to be more questions than answers and it’s difficult to quibble with the layers' view that Wane’s team are marginally more likely to reach the semi-finals.

The tie going to extra-time, a 22-1 shot, cannot be ruled out.

The most likely scenario is that both teams will adopt conservative game plans early on and take whatever points are on offer via penalty goals.

That has been the strategy in both meetings this season. Warrington opened the scoring with a Bryson Goodwin two-pointer in February’s 16-10 success and Wigan returned the favour at Magic Weekend via the boot of Sam Tomkins.

Betfair and Paddy Power are effectively offering 7-2 against the first scoring play being a penalty again and that looks value in the circumstances.

The worry for punters is that neither first-choice goal-kicker is that reliable. Tomkins has a 71 per cent success rate in the Betfred Super League and Goodwin is converting a paltry 59 per cent having failed with 15 of his 37 attempts.

Betway offer 12-5 against the first conversion being missed which is bang in line with Tomkins’s percentage but would look a decent bet on the stats if the Wolves notch the first try and Goodwin is the man lining up the kick.

Warrington’s ex-Wigan flyer Josh Charnley heads the first tryscorer betting alongside Warriors winger Liam Marshall.

First score Warrington penalty

1pt 8-1 Betfair, Paddy Power
First score Wigan penalty
1pt 8-1 Betfair, Paddy Power
First try unconverted
1pt 12-5 Betway

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Wolves were absolutely abject for 40 minutes at home to injury-hit Hull before getting their act together after the break
E.W. Terms
Sky bet