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2003 Match Preview: Widnes (A)
Wigan v Widnes Match Preview Posted on Friday, May 09 2003 @ 13:15:30 BST by Bilko
Wigan Warriors Coach Stuart Raper has announced his squad for Saturday's away match at Widnes Vikings.

Sean O'Loughlin is sidelined with a sternum injury to add to the list off Andy Farrell, Mick Cassidy, Brett Dallas,Craig Smith, Ricky Bibey,Stephen Wild and Luke Robinson who are all out. Academy youngster Harrison Hansen is included in the squad for the first time.

 
Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors Tetley's Super League Round 9
Saturday 10th May. Kick Off 6:00pm at Halton Stadium.
Match Introduction
When Wigan traveled to Widnes last season it was a certain Julian O'Neill that scored two tries in helping us to a 34-22 victory. 

This year of course he will be playing for the Vikings after he departed the JJB Stadium just over a month a go. 

His arrival at the Halton Stadium immediately changed Widnes' fortunes. Before he joined the club they had lost all four of their opening Super League fixtures. But since then they won three on the bounce before a crushing defeat against Warrington last weekend.

The main reason for the change in fortunes is O'Neill's goal kicking ability. Last year's goal kicker Barry Eaton left the club to join Batley during the off season and until O'Neill arrived they struggled with a makeshift kicker in Adam Hughes. 

Julian has scored 16 goals in just 4 matches for the Vikings and that has helped transform them from a side that looked like battling relegation to a side that potentially could make the play offs.

If you didn't already know Widnes now have two Julian O'Neill's in their squad. As well as the ex Wigan player they have a prop forward Julian O'Neill.

It has been very amusing to see how the media have coped with a side having two players with the same name.

BBC GMR commentator Phil Kinsella decided to call one of them "O'Neill the back" and the other "O'Neill the forward".

Sky TV took another approach by calling one of them "Julian O'Neill" and the other "Jules O'Neill".

Others have named them by their nationalities. "Ozzie O'Neill" and "Kiwi O'Neill. Talk about confusing.

The Widnes connections with Wigan don't end with O'Neill. Paul Atcheson and Phil Cantillon both began their careers with us whilst Andrew Isherwood was an academy youngster here until a couple of years a go. 

Neither of that trio are likely to start though on Saturday. Atcheson is expected to be on the bench now Stuart Spruce is fit again at full back. Cantillon is out of favour at hooker with coach Neil Kelly preferring ex London Bronco Shane Millard. Isherwood suffered a ruptured disc during a pre season trip to South Africa and is out for the season.

Wigan come into this game with yet another injury. Sean O'Loughlin joins the casualty list with a sternum injury. 

Question is who will play Stand Off in the absence of O'Loughlin? 

Most likely we'll see Nick Graham switch to Stand Off and Gareth Hock play Loose Forward. Or maybe Paul Johnson will play there? Dave Allen played at 6 for the academy in midweek so he is also an option if coach Stuart Raper needs to change things around during the match.

Thankfully Terry O'Connor is fit despite being brought off during Tuesday Night's match at Leeds. With Craig Smith and Ricky Bibey still out we needed available and it's good to see he is in the squad. I'm sure Danny Sculthorpe could do with the help after his amazing 70 minute performance at Headingley.

Academy youngster Harrison Hansen is also included in the squad for the first time. I've been impressed with him when I've seen him play for the academy this season. He's scored a total of 8 tries for both the Under 21s and Under 18s this season. Not bad for a forward. 

I don't think he will be but if Harrison is included it will be interesting to see where exactly he plays. Normally a Second Rower of Loose Forward for Academy matches but maybe he'll be used as an extra prop? Mark Roberts is also in the squad so maybe not but it's an option available to coach Raper.

For me this is the first of three matches that will make of break our season. With Warrington and Halifax to follow at home we've got to be looking at maximum points surely? I mean after that we face Leeds, Saints, Hull and Bradford, again in a row. We have got to be in a comfortable play off position before then or else we are going to be involved in one hell of a slog to make the top 6 this year. 

Bottom line is this is a game we should win. Our young side has proved in their last four matches that they can compete with the top sides, despite only winning one of those games. But they need to show the same passion, intensity and commitment against what on paper are easier opposition. Of course we all know their is never an easy game in Super League.

Opposition Ones to Watch

David Mills

David Mills is the son of former Welsh international Jim Mills. 

Last year he made a big impact in Super League so much so that he picked up both county honours for Lancashire and international honours for Wales, making his debut against New Zealand last November.

SQUAD NUMBER: 23
Team News
Wigan Widnes
Sean O Loughlin is sidelined with a sternum injury to add to the list off Andy Farrell, Mick Cassidy, Brett Dallas, Craig Smith, Ricky Bibey, Stephen Wild and Luke Robinson who are all out. Academy back rower Harrison Hansen could be set for a debut. The Vikings will be missing Steve McCurrie, out with a groin injury picked up last week. Paul Alcock is expected to debut in his place.
 
Team Sheets
Wigan Team
Kris Radlinski, Brian Carney, Martin Aspinwall, David Hodgson, Jamie Ainscough, Paul Johnson, Adrian Lam, Terry O' Connor, Terry Newton, Danny Sculthorpe, Gareth Hock, Danny Tickle, Nick Graham.
Subs (from): Shaun Briscoe, Mark Smith, Mark Roberts, Kevin Brown, David Allen, Harrison Hansen
Match Referee
??
Pre Match Quotes
Wigan Widnes
"(Widnes) have had quite an erratic year, they started off poor, they then got three games straight, but they were quite poor against Warrington, I think Neil Kelly was fuming about there performance and they obviously will be trying to put a few things right for the visit of us." Stuart Raper
"I'm expecting a very tough game this week and above all I am expecting a vast improvement in performance. Obviously we are looking to get back to winning ways. It's disappointing to lose in the way we did (against Warrington last week) and we will be looking to put that right this weekend." Widnes coach Neil Kelly
Current League Positions
  Team P W D L F A Diff Pts Form
7 Wigan Warriors 8 3 1 4 167 184 -17 7 U1
9 Widnes Vikings 8 3 0 5 160 194 -34 6 L1
Opposition Form (Last 6) - Widnes Vikings
Date Opposition Competition Result

Score

Match Report
03/05/03 Warrington (A) SL8 Round 8 Lost 6-34 Click Here
22/04/03 Wakefield (A) SL8 Round 7 Won 26-6 Click Here
18/04/03 London (H) SL8 Round 6 Won 32-20 Click Here
06/04/03 Halifax (H) SL8 Round 5 Won 44-16 Click Here
30/03/03 Bradford (H) SL8 Round 4 Lost 18-26 Click Here
23/03/03 Hull FC (A) SL8 Round 3 Lost 18-38 Click Here

Wigan Form (Last 6 all comps most recent game first): DLWLLL

Super League 8 Stats
Top Try Scorers
Wigan:
David Hodgson 4
Widnes: Dean Lawford, Daniel Frame, Andy Hay, Chris Giles & Paul Atcheson 3

Top Goal Kickers
Wigan:
Danny Tickle 16
Widnes: Julian O'Neill 27 (including 11 goals for Wigan)

Top Points Scorers
Wigan:
Danny Tickle 44
Widnes: Julian O'Neill 62 (including 26 points for Wigan)
Previous Super League Meetings at Widnes
Date Result Match Report

Att

4th May 2002 Widnes 22 Wigan 34 Click Here 7581

SL Record at Widnes: Wigan 1 Widnes 0
Overall Super League Record: Wigan 2 Widnes 0 

Matchday Weather

From bbci.

heavy showers Heavy Showers.
Wind: 8mph from the South.
Temps: Max: 15°C Low: 4°C

Ticket & Ground Details
West Stand (Visitors) - Adults: £14 Concession £8
North Stand - Adults: £14 Concession £8
South Stand - Adults: £15 Concession £8
Click for Halton Stadium Ground Guide.
Media Coverage
TV: The Match is Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm with commentary from Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stephenson. Fans in Australia can watch the game via tape delay Friday 16th May on Fox Sports.
Radio: BBC GMR (95.1FM) and BBC Radio Merseyside (1485mw only) will both have full match commentary of the match from 6pm on Saturday Night.
Internet: No Internet Coverage.
Opposition Views
Widnesvikings.co.uk - Official Site
Widnes-vikings.com - Unofficial Site
Vikings Message Board
Prediction
Widnes 12 Wigan 30
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