Charnley stars in Wigan triumph

Western Telegraph: Josh Charnley scored 26 points as Wigan hammered Widnes Josh Charnley scored 26 points as Wigan hammered Widnes

Josh Charnley took over as Super League's leading scorer for 2012 with a 26-point haul as Wigan re-established a three-point lead at the top of the table with a 54-12 victory over bottom club Widnes.

England's new winger scored a hat-trick of tries to take his tally to 25 in 18 matches and also kicked seven goals to go past Hull's former Wigan forward Danny Tickle and Catalan Dragons' Scott Dureau to the top of the scoring chart.

It was all too easy for the Warriors as they cruised to a 13th successive win at the DW Stadium in a match that vividly demonstrated the gulf that exists between the top and bottom of Super League.

Stand-off Brett Finch also caught the eye with a brace of tries as Wigan gained ample revenge for their shock 37-36 defeat at the Stobart Stadium in March. It took the leaders just two minutes to score the first of their 10 tries, with Charnley taking Sean O'Loughlin's pass to cross at the corner.

A rout looked on the cards when hooker Michael McIlorum easily shrugged off the attempted tackle of Chris Dean to score a soft try and Brett Finch and Sam Tomkins worked the ball out wide for George Carmont to touch down. Charnley's second goal made it 16-0 after 13 minutes, but Ben Cross stopped the rot when he plunged over for only the second try of his lengthy career.

Patrick Ah Van added the goal and the Vikings enjoyed something of a purple patch as they set up camp on the Wigan line. Stand-off Joe Mellor, who is on loan from the Warriors, would have added a second try but for a terrific tackle from Jack Hughes, who gave his old team-mate a 15-yard start before hauling him down short of the line.

Wigan soaked up the pressure and struck with two more quickfire tries through substitute Paul Prescott, who took O'Loughlin's short pass to claim his first Super League touchdown for 12 months, and winger Anthony Gelling.

Mellor made amends for his earlier miss when he intercepted Finch's pass to scoot 30 metres for a try on the stroke of half-time, but Wigan re-established their 22-point advantage within two minutes of the re-start when Finch dummied his way over for a sixth try.

Charnley showed his strength as well as pace to beat two defenders to claim his second try before completing his hat-trick on 67 minutes, pouncing after former Wigan full-back Shaun Briscoe failed to clear Tomkins' grubber kick, and O'Loughlin once more demonstrated his class to get Finch over for his second try.

Charnley has endured difficult times filling in for regular marksman Pat Richards but he looked full of confidence as he booted his seventh goal from nine attempts to bring up the half-century before Tomkins' went over for his side's 10th try.

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