Adrian Lam's missed drop goal proved costly as Wigan lost
this one despite a brave effort against the Challenge Cup Winners.
Pryce's 78th minute try won the game for the Bulls but the young Wigan side can
hold their heads up high because the referee was certainly a 14th man for the
Kris Radlinski, Jamie Ainscough and David Hodgson all returned for
this game and new loan signing Nick Graham made his debut at loose forward but
Andy Farrell, Brett Dallas, Terry Newton, Mick Cassidy, Stephen Wild, Ricky
Bibey and Luke Robinson were all still missing.
Hodgson and Ainscough made an immediate impact combining together with Paul
Johnson to score a superb 80 metre try down the wing after just thirty seconds.
Despite Danny Tickle's failed conversion it was a perfect start.
After that it was a strange first half. With so much quality on the field,
try scoring opportunities were few and far between and it was a real defensive
battle. Wigan had been heavily criticised and rightly so for poor defence
earlier in the season but they've certainly held their own in the last two
The rainy conditions made it difficult for Bradford to put their game
together. Ball retention was almost impossible. The Bulls forwards made plenty
of yards but they never looked like scoring. New signing Graham was excellent in
defence, but to be fair so was the whole Warriors team.
Wigan added to their lead on 27 minutes. Tickle kicked the penalty to make
the score 6-0.
That was the end of the scoring in the first half. The match was as tight as
the 6-0 scoreline suggested.
Two minutes after the break Tickle made the score 8-0 with another penalty
goal after the Bulls former Warrior Lee Gilmour was penalised for
But Bradford soon punished two early second half errors when Leon Pryce
scored on 46 minutes. He took Paul Deacon's long pass beating Hodgson to score
in the right corner. The normally immaculate Deacon didn't convert so we still
Soon after Deacon tried a penalty kick from 40 yards but missed again, this
time hitting the post.
Like the first half both sides handling was suspect in the rain but the one
piece of brilliance on the night set up a try for Lesley Vainikolo as Paul
Deacon palmed the ball to give the big wingman an unopposed run in. Deacon again
failed to convert but Bradford had tied the match up at 8 all after 62
Ian Smith called upon video ref David Campbell after James Lowes touched down
in the corner but the try was ruled out after he judged that Shontayne Hape had
The Bulls were now piling on the pressure. They forced several drop outs but
Wigan were defending pretty solidly. The visitors were also being helped by
referee Ian Smith who awarded them a number of controversial penalties.
Both sides pressed to win the game but it seems Bradford were thinking try
whilst we were thinking drop goal.
On 73 minutes Tickle tried an ambitious 50 metre penalty attempt but it just
fell short in front of the posts. Sean O'Loughlin and Adrian Lam both attempted
drop goals but they were woeful. Lam definetly should have scored his. He had
all the time in the world but somehow scuffed it along the floor. In my opinion
that miss cost us the game.
It was soon punished. With just two minutes to go James Lowes chipped over
rather than going for the drop goal and Leon Pryce came from nowhere to snatch
the ball ahead of Radlinski to score under the posts. Deacon converted making
the score 8-14 to the visitors.
Wigan won the ball back from the short kick off but for some reason kicked on
the first tackle despite a minute being left on the clock. The kick came to
nothing and Bradford won. Cruel loss but we could and should have won. Still
compared to performances earlier in the season, the last three suggest bright
things are ahead. I said before the season began we'll be competing with the top
sides at play off time. Well we are competing with them already and will only
get better as the year rolls on.
After the game coach Stuart Raper said: "It was a game of two halves. We
didn't help ourselves in the second half. We dropped too much ball in our own
half and they took advantage."