Well we perhaps got away with an obstruction call, and the fact
Phil Bentham deemed Chris Tuson had denied Brett Ferres a try, but
sometimes you just need to dig deep to gain the two points and
Wigan did that yet again.
I mentioned only the other day on the
message board how we dug deep to nick a late win against Hull at
home, a late point at Leeds away, at late win at home to Saints,
won at Huddersfield with massive injuries, more injuries tonight,
got the win - these are qualities of a champion side for me - luck
or no luck.
Of course Castleford had injuries themselves, and do not have
the squad depth we have, but their is a massive difference I think
between going away and playing with no expectancy on your backs
than playing at home against a supposed poorer side when your
expected to get not just a win, but a big win. Look at our trip to
Huddersfield for another example of that! All the expectancy that
night was on the Giants, but we turned them over - at least Cas
didn't turn us over!
At the end of the day, we played in heavy rain without three
would be regular props (Stuart Fielden, Andy Coley and Paul
Prescott), in what was very much forwards weather, plus we also
lost our top try scorer and goal kicker Pat Richards to a failed
late fitness test. Meanwhile, George Carmont spent a good chunk of
the field off injured first half, which meant Ryan Hoffman
converted to centre for a while, and Gareth Hock played about 5
minutes in total after suffering a groin injury. So ok, it wasn't
pretty, perhaps lucky, but under the circumstances I'll take that
I mean under Brian Noble do you think we'd have got anywhere
close to building up the 26-16 lead we did? No chance, we'd have
lost miserably as highlighted when
Cas won here 28-22 in 2009. Compare the two and they were
similar games but these days we are a bit more patient and clinical
in attack and that does us well. Just need to learn not to drop our
own ball. Sometimes you just have to be happy with, and grateful
for, a miserable win!
Onto the match itself and Wigan got off to a great start. On our
first possession of the game we forced a drop out, from which a
kick to the right corner from Paul Deacon was well collected and
touched down by Josh Charnley. Deacon himself, on goal kicking duty
in Pat Richards' absence, added the extra's off the touchline to
make it 6-0.
Castleford were soon forced into an early change when 72 year
old Nick Fozzard came off clutching his ankle (I thought he
returned later but might have imagined that?). He was replaced by Rob Parker who was on debut for the
Tigers having recently signing on loan from Salford. I think he did
well in his spell. He gave them a bit of go forward that helped
momentum towards their first try I thought.
That first Cas try came after a penalty helped them up the field
in the 11th minute, from which Ryan McGoldrick's pass sent ex
Warrior Stuart Jones over the line. Jones did well to realise that
the wet weather would see him slide over despite the attention of
three Wigan defenders. Cas, like Wigan, also had their regular goal
kicker (Kirk Dixon) absent as well so 19 year old Joe Arundel had
the honours but his first attempt missed.
Cas then took the lead in the 18th minute, punishing a poor last
tackle kick from Sam Tomkins and another conceded penalty. This
time a good pass from Dean Widders saw Richard Owen squeeze in the
right corner. Arundel then hit a touchline conversion to make it
10-6 to the Tigers.
Wigan were struggling at this point. When we did get into
attacking positions during the first half the patience was lacking.
Normally I like to say we are a side that can score from anywhere
on the park but in this weather, we also needed help to score
tries. A penalty came on 27 minutes, followed by another one soon
after for accidental offside, and we clinically punished. Great
long pass from Deacon to Joel Tomkins saw the latter send Charnley
in the right corner for his second. Deacon couldn't convert this
time though, so the score was level at 10-10.
In the final ten minutes of the half it was Castleford's John
Davies at the heart on the action. First on 33 minutes, he was
penalised for a high tackle on Josh Charnley. I had Wish FM's
commentary in my ear at the game and I know both commentator Mark
Wilson and summariser Andy Gregory were screaming "elbow" and "red
card" but looking back on replay I think it looked worse on the big
screen than it was. Swinging arm yes but not a red card for me. I'd
say reckless rather than malicious! Had to laugh at Ganson shouting
for "John Davies" to come forward not having a clue the bloke was
already stood next to him though, haha!
Anyway this player Davies went on to score for Cas three minutes
later. Harsh to criticise this try. Good kick from Chase and Sam
did well to slide and collect but just couldn't avoid being smashed
in the face by an opponents legs. The impact dislodged the ball and
Davies pounced for the try. Arundel converted and that made it
16-10 to Cas at half time.
Much disappointment around the DW at the break. Plenty of
forlorn faces, including my own. I tweeted that Maguire should give
them a bollocking but I was always confident of victory. We just
needed ball retention and patience and for a good ten minute spell
in the second half we found just that, and it won us the game!
Cas had punished a poor last tackle option of ours earlier, this
time it was our turn to get them back. Rangi Chase was guilty of
being trapped on the last tackle and from that Wigan found the half
break down the right from Sam, boosted forward by his offload to
Charnley. Looking like he was tackled, he kept the ball alive back
to Sam who went left. He aimed towards the posts but Steve Snitch
conceded a penalty for tackling him round the neck
From that tap penalty, Mossop made the initial drive, quick play
the ball, and Deacon sent Ginger Farrell through the gap for the
score. We've seen that try before haven't we? Exact carbon copy of
the Good Friday last minute match winner, with about 99% less
emotion for us supporters. Big score though with Deacon's
conversion levelling the game at 16-16.
Wigan now had Cas on the rack and they re-claimed the lead on 54
minutes with George Carmont (back on the field after missing a
chunk of the first half) scoring his 12th try of the season.
Excellent pass from Joel Tomkins to send him in. Not sure he knew
much about it mind. Replay's did show an obstruction but you could
argue Stuart Jones actually stepped to tackle the dummy runner?
Would he have impacted on the end result anyway? I wouldn't have
argued had it gone against us but I make the same old point - if
your not going to allow those kind of plays, just ban dummy
running!!! The would be obstructing Wigan player was just simply
making a dummy run for me. Anyway, Deacon was unlucky with his
conversion hitting the post and bouncing out rather than in, but
Wigan now had a 20-16 lead.
Crucially in the end, Wigan added to that last try pretty
quickly to build a much needed two score lead. Penalty helped us up
the field and Brett Finch showed his delight in nailing a perfect
pass to send Ryan Hoffman over the line from 15 out. Deacon
converted this time to make it 26-16.
23 minutes now remained and had we completed the next set at the
restart, I think we would have killed a dejected Castleford in the
final quarter of the contest. But Ginger Farrell lost the ball
under the impact of a tackle from Jake Emmitt and this set in
motion a very nervy and tense end to the game. It was a great hit
from Emmitt that lifted all his team mates.
Wigan survived that set but no sooner had they got the ball
back, they knocked on again with Joel Tomkins fumbling the ball
pretty much on our own try line. This time Cas did get over with
Brett Ferres seemingly touching the ball down but Ganson handed it
on to video ref Phil Bentham. Now basically their was no evidence
to suggest he grounded the ball but I wouldn't have argued had
"Benefit of the Doubt - TRY" had flashed up on the big screen. I
think you have to give benefit if their is no clear evidence either
way, which I don't think their was on that one. However Bentham
decided that Tuson's legs, or more like his bollocks from what I
could see, had held the ball up enough to deny the try.
Huge let off that. It ensured that for all Castleford's
continued efforts in the final quarter, that two point lead was
always looking like it would be enough. I did text "Gladys", who
was sat with "Doris" and others over in the west stand, after the
Hoffman try to say that we can now "breathe easy" but they were
still flapping away in a shower of pessimism. Other's were flapping
on twitter as well but you all need to have faith in Michael
Maguire! I was always confident we'd see it
Seriously, the sweat was still on though in the final 20 minutes
but despite plenty of good territory for both sides, no further
scores came. Closest was Thomas Leuluai to killing the game on 69
minutes but he knocked on trying to ground a difficult ball!
So a win is a win, top of the table we go on merit and let's
just get this backed up on Saturday at Quins. Of course I would
love a massive win in London but after tonight, I'll just take any
win. Let's get out of this three game week with six points, don't
really care how. Then we can move an eye at least towards
rebuilding high standards against Wakefield and taking that forward
to when they really will be required for that Warrington cup tie!
We can't perform against them like we've done in the past games!
Finally I have to praise Lee Mossop yet again. He's deservedly
joint top of our site player of the season race and I think in this
game he proved why. In the second half when we needed a forward to
lift, I thought he was the man that gave it to us. His work ethic
is superb and I'll say it again, if he doesn't get a test call up
in October and Jamie "over the hill" Peacock does, it is a damn