Wigan coach Denis Betts admitted his side were missing an experienced figurehead to lead the team after they scraped a narrow 23-22 engage Super League win over determined Widnes at the JJB Stadium.
The Warriors were in danger of losing their fourth league game in a row as they failed to build on a 12-point half-time lead and were left hanging on as the gutsy Vikings took charge of the game in the second period.
But with the scores level with five minutes remaining, scrum-half Dennis Moran kicked the all-important drop goal to give the hosts a much-needed two points.
Betts, whose side scored tries through Kevin Brown, Brian Carney, Stephen Wild and Danny Tickle, conceded the Warriors had been “average” on the night and felt they were lacking a leader on the field.
“The players are all trying but this is a young side and the expectations at this place is just weighing them down,” said the former Great Britain forward, who was missing regular captain Kris Radlinski.
“They look like they have got the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are all just young lads and it’s quite frustrating for me to see them like that.
“We haven’t really got anyone at the moment who can grab the players out there, like an Andy Farrell or a Sean O’Loughlin, to pull them together and push them in the right direction.
“They are making errors and they are just falling in on themselves. It’s really difficult but they will learn from the experience.”
Widnes coach Frank Endacott revealed his players were “hurting” in the dressing room and felt his side deserved to get something out of the game.
The Vikings scored four-pointers through Daniel Frame, Shane Millard, Richie Barnett and Gray Viane and refused to buckle after coming off second-best in the first half.
Indeed, they had an opportunity to tie the scores with almost the last kick of the game but chose to go for the win with a high kick - a tactic which failed to pay dividends after working so well throughout the encounter.
“It’s a cruel game,” he said. “We were so close to getting a result and we could have won it in the last minute of the game.
“Our fitness and character certainly are there but just need an ounce of luck.
“We went out with a very defiant game plan and we stuck to it.
“I cannot knock my players for effort. They are really hurting. When you put the effort in like that against a team like Wigan, of course they are hurting.
“We are getting our share of hard luck at the moment.”