Well this easy victory over Salford stretched Wigan's winning
streak to 10 wins in a row, which is our best run of victories
since between July and September 2000 when they also won 10 in a
row under Frank Endacott.
I was expecting a real hard battle from a Salford side that were
entering the last chance saloon if they were targeting a top 8
finish, but with that in mind the visitors performance was quite
pathetic and shameful really.
Wigan, for me, were clearly in pre Wembley ease up mode but
whilst I agree with coach Michael Maguire that their performance
was "very professional", the fact that it took a no more than 1st
gear effort to still hammer Salford is saying a lot about how dire
the standard of Super League is currently at the bottom end. It's
regrettable I think that the league will be continuing with 14
teams till at least 2015 because the depth of players to produce 14
teams is clearly lacking.
The big news to come out of this game for Wigan is that Ben
Cross' Wigan career looks to be over after just 4 substitute
appearances. He left the field with a suspected broken arm that is
said to now need plating. Whilst it is a shame, because he was
showing up well I thought, he was always a bonus player for us. I'm
sure we can cope with that loss, although I wouldn't like to see
any more injuries in the pack.
Coach Maguire gave a couple more players a rest ahead of the cup
final. Paul Deacon and Jeff Lima sat this one out with Darrell
Goulding and Gareth Hock coming onto the bench. Deacon's absence
was filled with Thomas Leuluai switching back to Scrum Half and
Mike McIlorum starting at hooker.
It took Wigan just 5 minutes to open the scoring. Brett Finch
hit Sam Tomkins with a pass and he threw a dummy which was enough
to create a gap for him to get over. Pat though missed the
conversion - 4-0 Wigan.
Salford hit back on 13 minutes with a try in the right corner
from Danny Williams. I think Brett Finch should have done better
with his effort to deny the score but Williams squeezed in the
corner before Daniel Holdsworth beautifully converted off the
touchline to make it 6-4 to Salford.
It couldn't help thinking that this was going to be one of those
afternoons when we flatter to deceive but we were soon back in the
lead on 17 minutes and we never looked back from then on. Sean
O'Loughlin and Finch combined to send ex Salford man Andy Coley
over close to the posts, easy conversion for Pat making it 10-6.
That was followed by our third try on 26 minutes. Again from
close range it was a move from left to right that saw Finch and
Leuluai combine to get Josh Charnley over for a try that wasn't
quite as breathtaking has his previous two efforts in cup ties
against St Helens and Warrington. He did well to put down barging
over two defenders and with Pat converting off the touchline it was
now 16-6 to Wigan.
On the half hour Ben Cross made his way onto the field for Lee
Mossop but he lasted barely a few minutes before that arm injury.
With time ticking to half time, 16-6 was probably a fair score but
Wigan managed to get two more tries in the final four minutes which
sealed the result before the break.
Sam Tomkins claimed them both as he supported efforts from the
two half backs to complete a hat-trick . First excellent footwork
from Finch saw him fool and beat three defenders before, with
fourth defender hanging on to him, he offloaded to send Sam under
the posts. Then Leuluai made a break from his own half and
offloaded to Sam who's paced burned off the last two chasing
defenders. Again he went under the sticks and the two easy
conversions for Pat made it 28-6 at the oranges.
Even though it was comfortable I still was happy to see us claim
the first try after the restart to keep the sweat off our backs.
Mike McIlorum was a dummy half under the sticks and his neat
footwork totally mugged opposite number Wayne Godwin as he scored
close to the posts. Easy Pat kick again for 34-6.
Then seconds after Stefan Ratchford was sin binned for a late
hit on Brett Finch, Ginger Farrell took Gareth Hock's offload to
crash over from a metre out. Shocking defence though from Salford.
No wonder their coach pans it in his reaction comments you can read
further down this report. Another easy conversion made it 40-6 -
although for a long while apparently the scoreboard was showing
Despite being down to 12 men, Salford hit back on 55 minutes
with their second try of the game. Got to question the Wigan
defensive line because an overlap should not be being created
whilst we have a man advantage. Adam Neal scored the try with
Holdsworth again converting well from wide - 40-12.
Wigan had shut up shop really though and that was highlighted by
coach Michael Maguire deciding to pull both Sean O'Loughlin and
George Carmont off the pitch in light of the cup final to come. The
returning Darrell Goulding replaced Carmont at left centre and it
looked like Fuzzy had capped his return with a try but referee
Robert Hicks disallowed it for a forward pass.
We had another try disallowed for a knock on in the act of
scoring but I can't recall if that came before or after the next
try that was given. That score went to Joel Tomkins on 68 minutes.
He was sent in by the superb Finch from close range, although again
it was poor tackling from Salford. Pat was loving the easy
conversions - 46-12.
Salford claimed their third try on 73 minutes although it looked
a clear forward pass to me before Williams went in the right corner
for his second. Holdsworth again converted for 46-18.
The best try of the game though was saved till last and it was
the little magician Sammy T who got it.
Harry Houdini! Pffft! You've got nothing on our Sam. Seemingly
trapped heading towards the left, he reversed out a cul-de-sac and
went right. He then seemed to turn the pitch into a disco dancing
competition because he out jinked a total of 9 Salford players
before crashing over in the right corner. He just went like shit
off a shovel and in that mood, you ain't going to stop him.
I asked on twitter for a few suggestions on how to describe that
try. Efforts included "cheeky... cocky... freakish... all of the
above" and "like a deer dodging the bullets of southerners?". Coach
Maguire just settled for calling it "special".
That fourth try took his season tally to 24 which now means he
takes over from Hull KR's Kris Welham at the top of the Super
League try scoring charts. Sam has had an amazing two months since
he got booed playing for England. Big thanks to those fans that did
that because they've made him an even better player. He really has
become freakish and you generally only see those type of players in
the NRL. We are lucky to have him here - 70 tries now in 89 first
Pat ended his afternoon with a touchline conversion to make the
final score 52-18 and the win keeps Wigan top of the table, one
point clear of the forever chasing Warrington.