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2003 Match Preview: Warrington (Play Off)
Wigan v Warrington Preview. Posted on Friday, September 26 2003 @ 13:07:35 BST


 
Wigan v Warrington  Tetley's Super League 8 Elimination Play Off
Saturday 27th September 2003. Kick Off 6:05pm at JJB Stadium.
Match Preview
If Warrington fans think their club is in the play offs on merit they are kidding themselves!

All Warrington getting into the play offs shows is the complete inconsistency of the Super League fixture system.

From Rounds 1 to 22 in the season each side plays the other home and away. Then from Rounds 23 to 28 each club is given an extra six fixtures which are determined by the clubs final league position the previous year. So if you finish in the top six your extra six fixtures will be mostly against top six sides. Vice versa if you finish in the bottom six.

I think it's ridiculous that a team can benefit from easier fixtures due to being, well let's be honest, crap the previous season.

Warrington played London, Widnes, Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield for their extra six fixtures. Whilst Hull, who Warrington pipped to the post in the top 6 race, played Bradford, Saints, Wakefield, Castleford, Wigan and Leeds. Looking at the difference in opposition is it any wonder that the Wolves made the 6?

Whilst Hull had to face the top four sides, Warrington faced the bottom four! How fair is that?

To put it in perspective during the regular season Warrington failed to beat any of the top four sides, only taking 1 point off St Helens in a home draw. So if they'd have had Hull's fixtures they'd have been no where near the top 6!

That just highlights that these extra fixtures are unfair and in my opinion Super League should just promote Salford and Leigh, giving us a 14 team league and a 26 round home and away fixture list. That's the only fair way to do it.

Still Warrington can only beat who they are given to play and despite my argument above they will be difficult opposition for us on Saturday.

You only have to look back at our two regular season meetings for proof of that.

We won by a point at the JJB back in May and by two points at Wilderspool just last month. We came back from behind to win on both occasions and it could be argued that we were lucky to do so.

But that narrow win at Wilderspool was the beginning of our current eight match unbeaten run and coach Mike Gregory is pleased with our progression under his management.

He said: I have been very pleased with the results, especially against the opposition we have faced, we have beaten and drawn with all the top six, I dont think anyone will really want to play us. In saying that you can probably say the same about Bradford or Leeds, its all about what we can do on the day. If Warrington come up short we will get them but I am sure with Paul Cullen they will be right for this game, it could well be an epic. It will be physical, both teams can play a bit of football but with home advantage we will be favourites, but we have to be ready and focused.

Greg says no team will want to face us but I don't think the Wire fans will be thinking that. This is a massive occasion for those fans who have been starved of success for a long, long time. They will come to the JJB in great numbers and that will only lift Paul Cullen's side. Us Wigan fans need to be in good voice ourselves, the lads deserve our support so lets give them some noise!

Wigan welcome back Terry Newton and Quentin Pongia after they missed the league game last week at Castleford, both with dead legs, whilst Danny Tickle and Sean O'Loughlin have both recovered from ankle knocks picked up at the Jungle.

Luke Robinson is undeservedly dropped from the starting line up but I suppose at this stage of the season we'd better go with Lam's experience from the start. Having Robbo on what is a pretty strong bench is a asset for us. 

Warrington have Lee Briers in their 20 man squad but is he 100% fit? He's been out for ten weeks with a broken left wrist!

This will be a close one, but I think our big game experience will see us come through in the end. For me our strong bench, which includes Paul Johnson and Terry O'Connor, will be the difference.

Opposition One to Watch

Graham Appo

I remember last year, when we went to Wilderspool on the August Bank Holiday Monday, that some Wigan fans sarcastically chanted Appo's name when he scored against us in a 40-18 win but 23 tries in 28 Super League appearance this season shows he is a danger man.

He has also been responsible for goal kicking recently but whether Lee Briers return will see him relinquish that role remains to be seen.

SL 8: 28 Apps, 23 Tries, 60 Goals, 0 Drop Goals = 212 Points.
SQUAD NUMBER: 5
Team News
Wigan   Warrington
Wigan caretaker coach Mike Gregory is able to field a full-strength team for the first time this year when the Warriors take on Warrington. Hooker Terry Newton and prop Quentin Pongia are back from injury, while influential scrum-half Adrian Lam will play from the start.   Warrington captain Lee Briers is poised to make his comeback from injury. He has been out for two months with a broken wrist but has been included in coach Paul Cullen's 20-man squad. He is expected to play from the subs bench along with Ian Sibbit who also returns. Prop Mark Hilton is suspended.
Team Sheets
Wigan
Kris Radlinski, Brian Carney, Martin Aspinwall, David Hodgson, Brett Dallas, Sean O'Loughlin, Adrian Lam, Craig Smith, Terry Newton, Quentin Pongia, Mick Cassidy, Danny Tickle, Andrew Farrell
Subs - Paul Johnson, Gareth Hock, Luke Robinson and Terry O'Connor.
Warrington Squad
Daryl Cardiss, Brent Grose, Ben Westwood, Dean Gaskell, Sid Domic, Graham Appo, Nat Wood, Paul Wood, Jon Clarke, Warren Stevens, Darren Burns, Mike Wainwright, Gary Hulse, Mark Gleeson, Paul Noone, Jerome Guisset, Nick Fozzard, Richard Varkulis, Lee Briers, Ian Sibbit.
Pre Match Quotes
Wigan   Warrington
"If Warrington come up short we will get them, but I am sure with Paul Cullen they will be right for this game," said the former Great Britain international. "It could well be an epic." Mike Gregory.   "I would have said Wigan were the form team before I saw Leeds at Hull at the weekend and witnessed the resurgence of Kevin Sinfield as a running half-back and that could put Leeds right up there with Wigan." Warrington coach Paul Cullen.
Big Match Referee
Steve Ganson (St Helens)
Current League Positions
  Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
3 Wigan Warriors 28 19 2 7 776 512 +264 40
6 Warrington Wolves 28 14 1 13 748 619 +129 29
Opposition Form (Last 6) - Warrington
Date Opposition Competition Result

Score

21/09/03 Wakefield (H) SL8 Round 28 Won 52-12
12/09/03 Huddersfield (A) SL8 Round 27 Won 25-12
07/09/03 Halifax (H) SL8 Round 26 Won 40-18
29/08/03 Leeds (A) SL8 Round 25 Lost 26-34
23/08/03 Widnes (H) SL8 Round 24 Won 30-16
17/08/03 London (A) SL8 Round 23 Lost 12-19

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

Super League 8 Stats
Top Try Scorers
Wigan:
David Hodgson 16
Warrington: Graham Appo 23

Top Goal Kickers
Wigan:
Andy Farrell 82
Warrington: Graham Appo & Lee Briers 60

Top Points Scorers
Wigan:
Andy Farrell 193 (7 tries, 82 goals, 1 drop goal)
St Helens: Graham Appo 212 (23 tries, 60 goals)

Previous Super League Play Off Meetings
No previous play off meetings.
Matchday Weather

From uk.weather.com.

Cloudy day but should stay dry.
Wind: Hardly any. 1mph from the South.
Temperature: At Kick Off: 12C Max: 15C Low: 6C
Sunset: 7:00pm BST

Ticket & Ground Details
North Stand (Visitors): Adults: 12.00 Under 18 yrs: 8.00 Senior Citizens: 8.00
West Stand: Adults: 16.00 No Concessions.
East Stand: Adults: 14.00 Concessions/Juniors/OAP's: 10
South Stand: Adults: 12.00 Concessions/Juniors/OAP's: 8.00
Click for JJB Stadium Ground Guide.
Media Coverage
TV: The Match is Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6:00pm with the usual commentary team of Eddie Hemmings, Mike Stephenson and Phil Clarke. In Australian the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports next Friday 3rd October.
Radio:   95.1 FM BBC GMR & BBC Radio Merseyside on 1485mw will have full match commentary of the game. 102.4 Wish FM will also have some coverage.
Net:  GMR broadcast "Saturday Sport with Jimmy Wagg" on the web but whether that extends to the rugby coverage I'm not sure. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/sat_sport_pop_up.shtml
Opposition Views
Other Links
Official Website
Wire Forum
Prediction
Wigan 26 Warrington 16
Wigan 20 Bradford 18
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