Wigan Warriors 48-4 Widnes Vikings
Wigan in semi-finals after Widnes thrashing
England winger Josh Charnley scored a devastating first-half hat-trick of opportunist tries as Wigan crushed Widnes 48-4 to set up a Tetley's Challenge Cup semi-final clash with London Broncos at Leigh on Saturday week.
Charnley scored twice in the first 12 minutes to give the Warriors the perfect start to their quarter-final at the DW Stadium and he added another before half-time to take his tally for the season to 32, putting him level with team-mate Sam Tomkins.
Poor Widnes were simply outclassed by a Wigan side boosted by the return from injury of Tomkins and his England team-mates Lee Mossop and Sean O'Loughlin as they followed up their 62-4 hammering in Super League in March with an eight-try rout.
The Vikings had six former Wigan players in their starting line-up but were prevented from fielding a seventh, Gareth Hock, as part of his loan agreement, not that he would have made much difference, such was the gulf between the two teams.
Wigan were so much in control that coach Shaun Wane was able to withdraw Tomkins five minutes into the second half and keep him fresh for next Monday's Super League derby at St Helens.
Wigan initially demonstrated some frailty, with Michael McIlorum coming up with a knock-on inside the first set of tackles and Blake Green dropping Tomkins' pass with the line open.
However, Charnley ensured there would be no upset by pouncing on Widnes handling errors to score twice in the first 12 minutes.
He swooped on a stray pass from Rhys Hanbury to scorch over from 70 metres for his opening score and then had a more leisurely 40-metre jog to punish more Kamikaze-style rugby league by the visitors, who seemed determined to produce inventive play even from deep inside their own half.
The Warriors were scoring at a point a minute when Tomkins supported a break by Harrison Hansen to grab his ninth Challenge Cup try of the season and he also had one disallowed before Liam Farrell broke out of his own 20-metre area to get scrum-half Matty Smith over.
Widnes pulled a try back seven minutes before the break when delicate kicks from former Wigan half-backs Joe Mellor and Kevin Brown paved the way for winger Patrick Ah Van to touch down at the corner.
But three minutes later Charnley swooped on Brown's wayward pass to sprint 80 metres and complete his sixth hat-trick for the club and Pat Richards' fifth goal made it 30-4 at the break.
It got even worse for the visitors when Hanbury conceded a goal-line drop-out from the kick-off to start the second half and Smith and O'Loughlin combined to get Farrell over for Wigan's sixth try within the opening set of tackles.
With Richards' sixth conversion making it 36-4, that was the signal for Wane to wrap Tomkins in cotton wool and take the opportunity to look at his deputy Ryan Hampshire for the last 35 minutes.
And Hampshire marked his Challenge Cup debut with his side's next try, finishing off a break by prop Gil Dudson on 56 minutes.
Green, so often the architect for Wigan, deservedly got on the scoresheet 10 minutes later when he pounced on the latest Widnes handling error and Richards took his goal tally to eight from as many attempts.
The noisy Widnes fans never gave up on their team, who created two clear-cut scoring chances in the last 10 minutes but fluffed them with sloppy final passes, which perfectly summed up their error-strewn display.