Wigan Warriors 27

Bradford Bulls 28

For 69 minutes last night it looked as if the contingent of Royal Marine commandos demonstrating the correct way to kick a man in the privates at half-time would be the only the thing to bring a smile to the small but hardy band of Bulls fans that made the trip over the Pennines to watch their stuttering side.

But it was Wigan who ended up getting kicked where it hurts after a stunning three-try blitz sparked by skipper Jamie Peacock and his predecessor Robbie Paul snapped the Warriors' 19-month winning streak at the JJB.

From the outset the Bulls looked a more determined and purposeful outfit than the side that slumped to season-opening defeats by Wakefield and Widnes.

But the basic errors and untimely penalties that have plagued them so far this season looked certain to once again prove their undoing as Wigan coasted to a 27-12 lead with just 11 minutes remaining.

And then the Warriors simply fell apart.

"We did everything but win that game," lamented Warriors coach Dennis Betts, who conceded the Bulls' superior physical presence finally caught up with his injury-hit, lightweight side.

"You don't become world champs and win two Grand Finals be being also-rans. This game just can't be played without any sort of punch. And once they had a taste they just came for us."

David Vaealiki's well-taken double, Terry Newton's opportunistic effort and Kevin Brown's simple try had put Wigan in the box seat, with Danny Tickle adding three conversions and two penalties to Sean O'Loughlin's field goal to stretch the lead.

Jamie Langley stretched out to score in Newton's tackle to get the Bulls on the board in the first half and Iestyn Harris capitalised on Leon Pryce's miraculous offload to keep their hopes alive mid-way through the second, however Brown's converted try in the 64th minute looked to have settled matters.

But then came Peacock, crashing over from Paul's short ball to provide a glimmer of hope with 11 minutes remaining.

That glimmer became a beacon when Paul accepted Peacock's offload, ghosted across the Wigan line and exchanged passes with Paul Johnson before popping an inside ball over the top of Newton to send Stuart Reardon over for a superb try. Deacon failed with his angled conversion attempt to leave the Bulls trailing by five with just three and a half minutes on the clock. Just half of that time was needed.

Stuart Fielden was the unlikely source of a grubber that forced Wigan to drop out from their goal-line. Lesley Vainikolo sucked in the defence with a powerful burst on the third tackle and Harris did the rest, cutting out three defenders with a skip pass that hit Withers in full stride.

Withers didn't do Deacon any favours by failing to improve the angle for the conversion but it didn't matter, the scrum half showing nerves of steel to drill his kick straight and true to seal the unlikeliest of victories.

"It shows that the character of this team is fairly well intact," said coach Brian Noble.

"When we start doing the things we practise to do we are going to be a force in this competition. I am delighted for the players. They didn't think they were going to be beaten. Even at half-time when they were down they still had a huge belief in themselves.

"We conspired to beat ourselves as much as anything in the previous two games. We improved tonight but we still have a way to go.

"We didn't talk about the result, we talked about an improvement in performance. But you could smell it on them. There were some special performances."