Wigan coach Shaun Wane was thrilled with the character shown by his side as they fought out a 17-17 draw with Super League title favourites Warrington at the DW Stadium.
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The Wolves did the double over Wane's men last season and they enjoyed a glut of possession on Friday night to test the resolve of the youthful home side.
"It was a good effort from our players," Wane said. "To have to defend so many sets on our line, we showed some geat character.
"I'm a little frustrated because I thought we could have done better but the courage and guts we showed in our defence was outstanding.
"We were nowhere near our best - we put ourselves under pressure with the penalty count - but overall I'm fairly pleased with that.
"It was a really big game and in the past we've not been performing in big games. It will send a signal out to other teams.
"The pleasing thing for me is that it's a quiet dressing room, they are all disappointed with the result."
Wigan led 17-16 with three minutes to go but Warrington's veteran stand-off Lee Briers landed the 68th drop goal of his Super League career to earn his side a share of the spoils.
It was too early in the season to expect a classic but the 20,015 crowd was kept on the edge of their seats by the no holds-barred contest in which there was little to separate the sides.
Wigan deserve most of the credit, however, for holding the title favourites despite without more than half their first-choice pack.
The late withdrawal of Paul Prescott, who failed to recover from a back injury and so joined Harrison Hansen, Chris Tuson and Epalahame Lauaki on the sidelines meant a Super League debut for Greg Burke, four days before his 20th birthday.
"He's only a kid but he did me proud," Wane said. "I thought he was outstanding and I'm really pleased with Jack Hughes and Iain Thornley."
Winger Joel Monaghan scored two first-half tries for the Wolves, who twice held the lead, but coach Tony Smith could take some encouragement from his side's performance.
"There's such long way to go," he said. "I'm not going to go home and kick the dog.
"There are mixed emotions. We're not punching the air but it was pleasing that we found a way not to lose it once we went behind.
"I don't think we controlled the game as much as we needed to. I thought they were better than us in the first half, they out-enthused us, but in the second half we showed a bit more control for patches of the game.
"The skill level was not particularly high but it was tense and the crowd played a part in that."