Well maybe, just maybe, this was the day that Warrington's policy
of having key men well over the age of 30 coming back to haunt them
because for what was the biggest game of the season so far, Adrian
Morley (age 34) and Lee Briers (33) were injured, David Solomona
(33) came off injured during the game and Brett Hodgson (33) had a
stinker really, being mugged twice in defence by Wigan whipper-snappers
on the break away.
For me this game won by Wigan by the back five. I know the pack
worked tirelessly and never took a backward step all game but our
full back and three-quarters totally slaughtered them. In the
opposite back five only Matt King really put up any resistance,
showing all his class to launch their fight back, but in the end he
just couldn't do it all by himself. You look at Joel Monaghan,
Matty Blythe and Ryan Atkins and for me they were totally anonymous
in this contest as an attacking threat.
Warrington also lacked direction in the halves. Lee Briers
dropped out, fair enough, but aren't they supposed to have this
international class boy wonder at Scrum Half? Surely with Briers
out this was an occasion for Richie Myler to step up to the plate?
Granted he did score twice and you cannot doubt that he is a class
support player but as a scrum half, he does nothing for me. He
never once got Wigan on the back foot all game. It seemed to be
Chris Bridge and Brett Hodgson doing all the control work?
For Wigan, I look at the whole 17 and can't fault too many
players for their efforts. I know Josh Charnley has been getting
stick for his defence but just remember the lad is still 20 and in
his first full season. His opposite right winger, the vastly more
experienced Joel Monaghan, was far worse in my view. He missed some
poor tackles if you look at the video closely - particularly for
the breakaway try that Charnley himself scored.
In the opening moments of the game I think Warrington settled
better than Wigan. A good chance came on 9 minutes when Myler (ah
he did do something at least!) put in a kick but it just went dead
before Matt King could touch down.
Now these two sides are a class above any other sides in the
league this year for being able to score tries from anywhere on the
park and Wigan showed why from the tap 20. It took them just 43
seconds to go 80 metres for the game's opening score. Hit ups from
Pat Richards, Jeff Lima and Ryan Hoffman drive us forward to their
30, then it's good passing that creates the overlap. Half backs
Brett Finch and Paul Deacon combined to get Leuluai breaking
through a huge hole and drawing in full back Hodgson he found
Harrison Hansen in support for the score near the sticks. Louis
Anderson tapped his ankles but he was able to roll over anyway.
Easy conversion for Pat made it 6-0.
The next score for Wigan amazingly came just 22 seconds after
Warrington restarted. Remember
Brian Carney's try against Leeds in the 2003 Play Offs? This
effort was pretty much an exactly replica. 80 metres out, Sam
Tomkins took the play the ball and set off. Garreth Carvell,
Michael Monaghan and Louis Anderson were all guilty of lazy, lazy
defence around the play the ball and you can't be lazy when Sam is
around. He got away, then his footwork put Hodgson flat on his arse
and once he was past him, the try was never in doubt.
I think the BBC Commentary team summed that try up best. Dave
Woods said "in the blink of an eye - Wigan have two tries. Sam
Tomkins - mercurial genius" whilst John Kear added "if Simon Cowell
is looking for the X-Factor, just look at Sam Tomkins, he's got it
by the bucket full".
Those two tries in two minutes left Warrington stunned and Wigan
are now all over them. 17th Minute - Deacon puts the bomb in the
air and Hodgson is totally flapping at Full Back. He can only
concede the drop out and 40 seconds after that, Wigan are in again.
Carmont is on a half break but it looked like he'd been stopped by
Joel Monaghan but referee Richard Silverwood deemed the tackle
wasn't complete and he played on with an offload away to Sam
Tomkins. He found Brett Finch who's pass sent Andy Coley through a
missed tackle from Garreth Carvell and he powered over from twenty
metres out, close to the sticks.
Now on this try, referee Silverwood went to video screen to have
a look at whether that Carmont tackle had been completed. I think
that is total garbage and we shouldn't be using the video ref for
stuff like that. Carmont played on because the referee said play
on. So instead of checking whether a try has been put down or
whatever, we are now using the video ref to determine whether the
referee has made a mistake or not? That is an example of what has
gone wrong with the video ref since Stuart Cummings became
officiating boss. In the early day's of Super League it was a
simple tool to decide whether a try had been scored or not. These
day's it is just a massive back coverer for the referee. Their
could well be an argument that is was a completed tackle but if the
ref said play on, it's play on simple as that - how can it be the
players fault? Anyway..........the try was given! Pat converted for
Wigan continued on this massive roll and claimed a fourth score
on 24 minutes. The territory was set up when a bomb from Finch was
allowed to bounce. Hodgson was flapping again with him and Joel
Monaghan leaving the ball for each other. It ended up in touch off
the hand of Monaghan for a Wigan scrum ten metres out. Warrington
had survived five tackles but on the last we went left. Great
passing - Deacon, Finch, O'Loughlin, Sam Tomkins and Carmont all
got a touch before Pat squeezed in the corner. He couldn't convert
though but 22-0 in 24 minutes was a hell of a scoreline.
After that though, the game amazingly swung the other way
towards Warrington. For the first time for ages they had made us
kick from deep in defence and then a penalty conceded by Finch for
holding down got Warrington into our half. Good hands for this try
from the Wires, spreading the ball from right wing to left. Chris
Bridge, Michael Monaghan, David Solomona and Ryan Atkins all got a
touch before Matt King was sent through the overlap. Hodgson failed
to convert - 22-4.
They were desperate for that score and it certainly lifted them
because they scored again on 31 minutes. Lovely dummy from Hodgson
fooled our defenders and got King breaking down the left from half
way. Sam was their to halt King but the supporting Myler easily
burned off Gareth Hock for the score. Not sure if Hock was injured
or just showing his lack of match fitness there but I don't think
he played at all second half? Hodgson converted this time for
22-10. All of a sudden we'd gone from dream land to now sweating in
a mind process of "get to half time, get to bloody half time!!!".
Warrington were clearly all over us down the left wing but on 35
minutes a great gang tackle from Joel, Charnley, Deacon and Hock
barrelled King over the touchline. Didn't matter because two
minutes later they were in again. Great break on half way from
Monaghan and Myler was in support again to claim his second.
Hodgson's conversion made it 22-16 and that's how it remained until
Very negative at half time from Wigan fans. The mood seemed to
be fearing the worst. The thought of having a 22-0 lead and blowing
this was not good to think about. I'm thinking first try of the
second half is massive, but we actually didn't get it. Warrington
did. 43rd minute - David Solomona, who had given them a massive
boost off the bench, scored it, again in that left corner. Charnley
had no chance stopping him. Hodgson missed the extras though, so it
was still 22-20 to Wigan.
Unfortunate for Warrington that would prove to be Solomona's
last act in this game. He went off injured a couple of minutes
later. Some Wire fans having a go at the tackle technique but their
was absolutely nothing in that. Coley was just tackling his legs
from behind and unfortunately his knee got injured. He certainly
wasn't a third man in. Just an unlucky injury for me. Also, whilst
Warrington fans can rightly argue about how big an impact he had
for them - I'd also argue that taking Leuluai off for Mike McIlorum
on a mirrored timescale took a lot away from us. Tommy was on fire
in that first 25 minutes.
Now if you look at the scoring incident time line below you will
see that Wigan dominated the beginning and back end of the game
with it being all Warrington in the middle. Except for this next
try that went to Wigan. It was the only try scored by a team that
was struggling for momentum and it helped us establish a two score
lead at a vital time.
It was a lovely move between Hoffman and Finch that set this one
up. Finch's pass to Hoffman wasn't quite taken. He passed but Hoff
just kind of pushed back to him and this took out three defenders
to create an overlap for Carmont to half break. Watch George on the
video hand off Ben Westwood before offloading to send Pat in for
his second. Not an easy conversion but when it really matters we
all know Pat delivers. The extra two made it 28-20 and allowed
Wigan to recompose themselves into the dog fight.
Warrington were still not giving up though and they scored
another try down our left wing on 59 minutes. Charnley was getting
the stick for allowing King to power over him, but the fault should
lay with three defenders who let Westwood offload. Still the
conversion was on the touchline and with Hodgson missing the
extra's Wigan still held a 28-24 lead but goal kicking was the now
the only difference on the score board. It show's how valuable Pat
is to us!
Massive moment for Wigan was their response to that
try, which came within two minutes. Hodgson continued his awful
game with a knock on at the restart and with good territory, Finch
put a bomb up on the last. No Warrington player jumped and this
allowed Joel to bat the ball back in the air to Deacon who sent
Charnley in for a simple score. Pat missed this conversion to leave
the score at 32-24 but claiming such a quick response to last Wire
try put a dagger in their hearts I felt. You just cannot keep
chasing and chasing and chasing the game and expect to win if your
conceding tries whilst your doing the chasing.
Still 18 minutes remained on the clock and although
I'm now very confident, you still want to get another try to make
the result totally out of doubt and if you can picture book a try
to win any game of rugby league - this one would be it!
Charnley picks the ball up one metre from his own
line. Warrington players are stood around claiming a knock on but
it clearly went back you plonkers! Charnley's not wasting time,
he's on the run. The Monaghan brothers both put in pathetic tackle
attempts on him which leaves Charnley with just Hodgson to beat. On
today's display he was always going to fail. Young put in a
beautiful side step to beat him and ended going the full length for
the score. He was running towards the Wigan fans as well, it makes
it oh so much a better feeling! You cannot buy moments like that.
Even "Gladys" wasn't bothered by the inevitable beer shower! It's what
makes these cup tie/play off sudden death games so special. Easy
Pat conversion. 38-24 now and it's game over despite 12 minutes
The clock ticked down nicely now and Wigan managed to
get a cherry on top of the cake try with 3 minutes left. Sam was
showing his class at spotting a gap again. He kicked into space,
King was flapping at the bouncing ball and Sam forced him into an
error with Sean O'Loughlin being able to just scoop up and claim a
gift try. Pat converted again to make the final score 44-24.
So in conclusion...........not a bad £20 spent eh? :-D
Bring on the semi finals!