|Many fans predicted we'd get nothing from our
last three matches.
Reality is we could and probably should have taken maximum points.
If only we'd had a fully fit squad?
This 24-24 draw means we only get half of what we deserved.
Leeds opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Kevin Sinfield's
delayed pass allowed Chev Walker to break away down the wing then
sending Mark Calderwood over in the corner. Sinfield failed to convert.
Wigan responded well. Danny Sculthorpe crashed
over after recieving Terry Newton's pass. Danny Tickle converted to give
us a 6-4 lead after 11 minutes.
Leeds hit the front again on 17 minutes. A chip
kick from Andrew Dunemann was collected by former Warrior Dave Furner
who sent Keith Senior away down the left wing. He found Francis Cummins
with a suspicious pass inside and he went over to reinstate the Rhinos
lead. The Warriors traveling support were adamant it was a clear forward
pass and they let the touch judge know it. Sinfield though was not
having a good start to the game with the boot. He failed to convert
again so the score was 8-6 Leeds.
Wigan again responded well. Juts four minutes
later new signing Nick Graham combined with Sean O'Loughlin and Dave
Hodgson in sending Jamie Ainscough over in the corner. It was super
passing and Tickle converted to make the score 12-8 to us.
On 32 minutes Tickle got a try of his own.
Adrian Lam tried to pick up a O'Loughlin chip but the ball instead
cannoned off his knee. Newton picked it up and passed to Tickle who went
over for a try which he converted to make the score 18-8.
That lead was held to half time. It was
thoroughly deserved no doubt about it. Leeds had been a bit flat. I
remember saying to someone at the game "if we lose this it will be hard
to stomach". Well in the second half our lads put us through the
At the start of the second half however Wigan
should have increased their lead. A superb O'Loughlin chip kick sent the
ball towards the try line but Tickle managed to knock on unopposed. If
he'd have scored that, we'd probably have won the game but instead it
only lifted the Rhinos.
They came flying at us with a long period of
possession. First Kevin Sinfield scored a penalty on 46 minutes to
narrow the scores to 10-18.
Then three minutes later Gary Connolly broke
through linking with Danny McGuire who raced away to score. It was a
great try for the Leeds youngster but how of earth Ryan Bailey wasn't
penalised for cleaning out Tickle just before hand was a complete
mystery. Yet again poor officiating. If referee Steve Ganson didn't see
it then surely one of the two touch judges did? Anyway that try narrowed
the score to 16-18.
Leeds then piled on the pressure for the next
ten minutes but their only reward was another Sinfield penalty on 59
minutes. Nick Graham was penalised for ball stealing. That levelled the
scores at 18 all.
Two minutes after that Tickle reinstated our
lead with a penalty of his own from 40 metres after Rhinos prop Danny
Ward was for some reason punished for interference at the play the
Leeds then took the lead on 66 minutes.
Connolly broke free down the left from deep in his own half. He found
Senior on his inside who in turn found little half back Rob Burrow on
his inside and he scored under the sticks. Sinfield's conversion made it
24-20 and all of a sudden we were yet again staring defeat in the face
despite a tremendous effort.
Thankfully we tied the scores up on 69 minutes.
Basically we pushed and pushed and pushed before Sculthorpe produced a
wonderfully strong individual effort to power over despite three Rhinos
defenders trying to stop him. It was a fantastic effort and he deserved
the chants of "theirs only one decent Sculthorpe" from the Wigan
support. Tickle was off the field after being clattered into earlier so
in was down to Adrian Lam to kick the give us the lead. But he missed so
that left the scores 24 all with ten to go.
Leeds of course had won both of their previous
two Super League matches with late drop goals and it would have been oh
so sweet to give them a taste of their own medicine.
Adrian Lam should have done that. He had all
the time in the world to slot one over from a slight angle but just hit
it the wrong side of the posts. Leeds then powered up the other end and
should have won it themselves. McGuire's kick looked like it was going
over but somehow swerved wide hitting the outside of the post. It didn't
go dead and Brian Carney had to be alert to make sure they didn't pounce
for a try.
That was the end of the scoring opportunities
and when the final siren went, I felt it was a point dropped considering
we led 18-8 at half time. But before the match I'd have taken a draw I
Despite Sculthorpe's brace just to be different
I'm giving my man of the match to Brian Carney for his pure effort. Some
Wigan fans were called him "Rocky" because of his head band even though
it's "Rambo" that wore one of them it isn't it? Anyway he was superb for
After the game coach Stuart Raper was happy
with the draw.
He said: "It was an outstanding effort. Of
the top three teams, we've beaten St Helens, been done on the bell
against Bradford and drawn with the undefeated side. That's not bad for
a side in crisis."
He was also full of praise for Danny Sculthorpe
saying: "It put a lot on Danny, but he was outstanding. We are
showing plenty of character and, when you have that character in a team,
it makes it easy to coach the specifics".
"If we had healthy troops, I would have been
angry with the draw but at the end of the day we'll take the point."