Well two's week ago against Warrington it was attack, attack,
attack that got Wigan to victory but in this game it was the
defence that was key to victory. It is credit to Wigan's defence
that I think Saints played as well as they could but for an hour at
least they just couldn't find a way over our try line.
Coach Michael Maguire named the same starting 13 that played
against Warrington in the last round but Paul Prescott and Gareth
Hock missed out on the bench with Liam Farrell and Ben Cross coming
It was clear very early on that this was going to be a
tight, tense battle. Saints looked more likely to open the scoring
when they had three sets in a row inside our twenty metre area,
around the 7 minute mark, but they wasted it with a knock on from
Paul "The Slug" Wellens.
On 16 minutes Wigan got a penalty after James Graham
was penalised for interfering in the ruck. Bang in front from 30
out, Pat decided to go for goal. This was met by an amusing
rendition of the England Rugby Union song "Swing Low, Sweet
Chariot" by the Saints fans. Pat though missed a sitter by his
standards, the kick sailing wide!
Around the 23 minute mark Saints forced another repeat
set when a kick from Jon "gods gift to over achievement" Wilkin's
kick forced Sam to concede a drop out. Then a fourth tackle
obstruction penalty was conceded right under the sticks and Saints
this time went for the penalty goal. In fairness the Saints fans
gave the "swing low" chant to their own team. Jamie Foster slotted
it for a 2-0 Saints lead.
Soon after that Saints forced another repeat set when
a kick from Jonny Lomax had to be dealt with by Pat. Wigan's
defence was strong but they were again forced into a drop out with
Charnley batting away another kick from Wilkin. But Wigan survived
again after James Roby threw a "ladders" pass into the head of
So we'd now played half hour and this report probably
reads like total Saints domination. It wasn't really like that in
reality but the fact Saints had three periods of possession in our
twenty, to which they had forced repeat sets, and only ended up
with two points was massive in the end context of this game.
Especially when Wigan claimed the games first try in the 34th
Josh Charnley has been getting some harsh stick for
the defence on his wing but credit the lad that he's not been
affected by it. He scored a blinder in the Warrington quarter final
and it was his break that set up the opening try.
From his own twenty he took the play the ball and
completely mugged Francis Meli who was at marker. Totally flat
footed him and burst through the hole down the right wing. Slug
Wellens did well to cut him off but the damage was done. The break
had dragged most of the defence to the right so Wigan swung the
play the ball left. Two long cut out passes from first Joel Tomkins
then brother Sam created the overlap for Ryan Hoffman to send
George Carmont in. Pat converted to make it 6-2. That lead took us
to half time and we Wigan fans were delighted with that. Soaked up
all that pressure and still had the lead!
Second half started in the same vain with defences
dominating but it looked like Wigan had claimed their second try on
47 minutes when Sam Tomkins went over. Sam threw an outrageous
dummy that was bought by Michael Shenton and it was enough to get
him over but referee Steve Ganson chalked it off for an apparent
obstruction by Hoffman in back play. I still think they might as
well ban dummy runners in televised games. The annoying thing is
that if Sam had been tackled a bugs dick short of the line they
just would have been played on. Silverwood was never going to give
that decision off his own back but because it goes over the line
they look at it. I really don't like those calls. Dummy Running is
part of the game.
A minute later up the other end Saints forced yet
another drop out with Sam trapped in goal from a Leon Pryce kick.
Yet again though Saints couldn't convert that chance into a try.
Superb Wigan defence!
Despite that drop out you could sense Wigan were
starting to get on top. James Graham looked like he was suffering
badly with injury that had made him doubtful earlier in the week
whilst Leon Pryce also looked like his injury ravaged season was
catching up with him.
Slowly but surely the second Wigan try came on 56
minutes. It was a reward for great defence again. On the attack Sam
had put a kick in which Slug had dealt with but only a metre from
his own line. Saints had only made their 30 metre line when the
last tackle was called. Decent clearance kick in fairness but Wigan
were back on half way after just three tackles. They then swung
right. Great passing - Thomas Leuluai, Brett Finch, Paul Deacon,
Sam and Joel Tomkins all got a touch but it was lazy hanging back
defence from Jamie Foster that allowed Charnley to break. Meli came
across to halt Charnley but he full on mugged him inside out before
making Slug Wellens look like the biggest fool in the land. BBC
commentator Dave Woods said "he hypnotised them, they didn't know
where he was" - a perfect description for that try.
That break had come down the right but Josh had been
able to round off under the sticks, so that gave Pat an easy kick
for 12-2. Saints were now rocking on the ropes and just two minutes
later Wigan hit them again with what proved to be the knock out
From the restart, Carmont made a half break down the
right but his pass inside went to ground. Wigan got possession back
though because Shenton had knocked it down. That was on half way
and two tackles after the resulting scrum, Sam Tomkins ducked,
dived and reached over to score despite three defenders trying to
stop him. Classy dummy half play that. Pat converted and at 18-2
with 20 to go this game looked all over.
It should have been done and dusted after Foster hit
the restart out on the full. From this possession Joel Tomkins
looked a certain scorer out on the left but he for some reason
passed inside to a stunned Carmont who knocked on. Georgie was
stunned because Joel should, and would, have scored himself. I was
stood bang in line with that effort and knew straight away that
he'd dropped a big bollock! It was a massive brain fart and that
lifted Saints. 22 or 24-2 would have been game over but that error
lifted Saints into a fightback.
In the next few minutes Saints scored two back to back
tries with Foster claiming both down our right side defence. He
then converted the first but I was always confident when he missed
the second. 18-12 was now full on sweat time but at least we still
had the cushion of being level if they scored again.
Ten minutes actually remained on the clock but being located in
the stand that the big screen is located in, and not being able to
see it, meant I had no idea how long was left. Whilst I bet time
dragged for most Wigan fans it didn't seem that long to me. I was
actually glad I couldn't see the clock and I probably didn't feel
that much pressure because Saints didn't really get a chance to
level the scores. Pryce had now departed and Graham was done in. He
shouldn't have been on the field.
Wigan had seen out eight minutes without too much danger and now
inside the final two minutes Saints conceded penalty that gave Pat
a shot at goal to win it. It was out on the touchline twenty metres
out. He missed though but having drilled a full minute off the
clock, Wigan just had to stick it up the jumper once they
re-gathered a short twenty metre drop out from Saints.
The clocked ticked to dead with Wigan still in possession and
the Cherry and White faithful rejoiced. I'm sure Joel Tomkins was
most relieved. I really don't think he'd have been forgiven by
Wigan fans had his brain fart cost us that game. Very harsh
probably but that's how much it means to us after those recent Semi
Final heartaches. Ah well it didn't matter in the end!
Fantastic scenes at full time. The Wigan fans sang and sang and
sang for a good 25 minutes after full time. Even the great
Henderson Gill came across from the other side of the field to take
pictures of us fans. Chairman Lenegan and top man "Winston" (that's
Winston Higham, a member of the board) came over to show their
appreciation. It was a great day and a great win. Now let's get the
job finished at Wembley - bring it on!