Well coach Michael Maguire branded the second half display from
Wigan today as simply "not acceptable" after his side failed to
score a single second half point for the second match in a row.
It was a very disappointing last 20 minutes for sure but
circumstances really did work against Wigan and into Castleford's
favour. First, very early in the second half, Pat Richards
intercepts on his own 20 and races away with Kirk Dixon struggling
to keep up. It was for all the world a try but just short of the
line, inexplicably with no one near him, Pat dropped the football.
Moment later Sean O'Loughlin knocked on over the line as well and
had either of those attempts been scored, the game would have been
well and truly over.
So that was already keeping Castleford's hopes of a comeback
alive but it really was a touch judge call around the hour mark
that changed the match completely. Basically their is a rule where
from a twenty metre restart you can actually kick for touch rather
than tap the ball and where ever the ball goes out, you get the
scrum. But the ball has to bounce in the field of play first and
this attempt from Danny Orr wasn't just out on the full, it was
well out on the full. It was bang in front of me and we could all
see it it was out on the full but the touch judge said otherwise.
Even Wish FM commentator Mark Wilson tweeted at me that "the flag
man wants shooting. it was miles out" and he was sat on the other
side of the field. I don't like to bag officials in my match
reports but that decision was a total disgrace and he should be
demoted for it. Granted their is no excuse for losing a 22-4 lead
but that call almost cost us the game.
For all that, I think we have to be grateful for a point off the
back of the International Origin match on Friday because it turned
out that none of the top 4 backed up with a win today. Even though
I think we should have had the game wrapped up by the 50th minute,
overall we looked pretty tired and ragged from the off I felt.
Castleford to me looked like they had an extra spring in their step
but they kept letting Wigan off the hook first half with garbage
ball retention. I think they also made an error by only having
Rangi Chase on the bench. They were a far better outfit when he
The origin tribulations of Friday meant that both Sam Tomkins
and George Carmont sat out the action with Amos Roberts and Darrell
Goulding replacing them. Coach Maguire also gave Chris Tuson his
first start of the season at Loose Forward with Sean O'Loughlin
playing off the subs bench.
Wigan made hay early doors by targeting our old friend Richard
Mathers. A poor nothing kick was put in by Paul Deacon but Mathers
flapped at the bouncing ball and it fell kindly for Brett Finch who
was able to touch down close to the posts after just 8 minutes. Pat
converted for 6-0.
It was hard work though on a soggy pitch but Wigan always looked
the more likely to score. They probably should have found at least
one try before they finally scored again on 26 minutes. Again it
was a Mathers error that created the territory. Kick went to him
and he knocked it on, much to the delight of the Wigan faithful.
Soon after he was substituted for Rangi Chase, a move that further
delighted the Wigan fans .
Off the back of that error, O'Loughlin was now into the action
and he was running left with a total of 7 defenders hanging back
from him before an overlap allowed Josh Charnley to crash in the
right corner via a touch from Joel Tomkins. Josh ended a 5 match
try drought having not scored since Crusaders (A) last month but
Pat couldn't covert so the score was left at 10-0 after 26 minutes.
Soon after that came one of those rare cherished moments, a Paul
Prescott try. O'Loughlin and Finch combined and it was a lovely
shuffle pass from the latter than sent Precky barging in from a
metre out. That was the third try of his Wigan career and his
second this season, having scored at Leeds in April. Pat converted
for 16-0 and with 5 to go to the break, your thinking let's just
get to half time.
But although we didn't hold that lead to half time, we actually
ended up in a better position because whilst Cas scored on 38
minutes, we still had time to respond before the break.
The Castleford try saw Dean Widders touch down a beautifully
weighted kick from Danny Orr. It was an easy conversion but Kirk
Dixon made a complete tit of himself by slipping over at the vital
Then Wigan responded with a great try just 10 seconds before the
hooter. Pat made the break from sixty out but didn't have the legs
to go all the way. He found Joel Tomkins in support and it was
great play from him because he was heading into touch but powered
back inside to take Dixon over the line with him. Pat's conversion
made it 22-4 at the break, great first half!
Like I said though, it all went against us second half. First
Pat's unbelievable knock on then O'Loughlin failing to ground also
when he looked a certain scorer. Their was also a big moment whilst
the score was a 22-4 in which I think Wigan should have gone for
two. They had been tapping penalties all afternoon, and I like
that, but they had an opportunity to kick an easy two and I think
they made a wrong call in not pushing their lead up to a four score
lead. Easy to say that in hindsight but I did say it at the time.
They should have been slowing the play down in those conditions.
Anyway, once Cas got a try back on 56 minutes they always
believed they could come back. That try came from Joe Arundel in
the right corner, Dixon missed the kick.
That made it 22-8 and for me it is exactly this kind of
situation in which we need Paul Deacon and Brett Finch to take
control and shut down the game. But again, didn't really happen. In
fairness Finch seemed to be out on the wing with a knock. He
certainly gave the touch judge what for at that error I mentioned
It was from that poor touch judge error that Martin Aspinwall
scored to narrow the lead further. Great kick towards the posts by
Chase and he won the race to touch it down. Easy kick here for
Wigan were now looking dead on their feet and this was leading
to errors that allowed Cas to come back further. Joe Arundel scored
again on the right, taking advantage of poor defence from Darrell
Goulding. Dixon's kick was wide but at 22-18 with 10 to go, you
really fancied Cas.
One thing was for sure, we were never going to score again so it
simply was a case of trying to hang on. We'd done well to get the
clock down inside the final two minutes but Chris Tuson knocked on,
on half way, to give the Tigers one last chance and they took it.
That man Chase with the pass and who else but Mathers to claim the
try. He was now playing out on the left wing and he made mugs of
the Wigan fan's who had given him so much stick earlier. It was no
doubt a sweet moment for him, but it turned into a damp squib I
suppose when Dixon missed the kick to win the game, his fourth miss
from five attempts.
In conclusion, a point dropped, no doubt about it, but looking
at results elsewhere, its a actually a good point gained. We've won
back our go top if we win our game in hand opportunity for now and
that should continue to be the aim before that extra games happens
next month. We've three tough fixtures to come before then though,
starting with the small matter of St Helens on Friday. You'll might
be pleased to know my Match Preview will be back this week for that
one after an absence of three weeks!