Well in the end this was an excellent pre Wembley tune up for
Michael Maguire's side. Rather taking their eye off the ball, Wigan
scored 12 tries, which in terms of tries scored was their best attacking performance in
Super League since they beat Hull 66-6 at home in August 2008!
Coach Maguire again rested players with Lee Mossop, Andy Coley and
Brett Finch all sitting out this one. Paul Deacon and Jeff Lima
both returned after being rested last week whilst Eamon O'Carroll
made his first appearance since the away trip to Huddersfield in
This game though was really about the forwards who were trying
to play their way into the Wembley team - namely Gareth Hock, Liam
Farrell and (because he's missed a few recently) Paul Prescott. Now
I'm a big fan of Ginger Farrell but sadly I think he will be the
one to suffer the heartbreak of being the 18th man. Paul Prescott
has been a regular most of the season and Gareth Hock just has that
little bit extra for me.
The only negative from this performance was the goal kicking of
Pat Richards who missed half of his 12 conversion attempts. I think
this is a good sign because when he's had off days with the boot
before, he's gone away to practice and sorted it out. I'd take a
small bet that he'll kick when it matters next week.
Wigan were all over Bradford from the start with huge gaps in
the defensive line helping us break clear. In the second minute,
Thomas Leuluai made a half break to get Sean O'Loughlin away. He
found Sam Tomkins but Gareth Raynor did well to stop him short of
the line, without fouling him like he did to get a red card the
last time the sides met at Odsal in May. Sadly the move broke down
with Joel Tomkins knocking on in the right corner.
Then just over a minute later, Sam Tomkins got the ball in the
right corner ten metres from his own line. Their were plenty of
Bulls defenders to stop him but they all hung off and Sam just
totally mugged both Danny Addy and Ben Jeffries with a jinking step
that got him racing away. Bradford scrambled back to tackle him
just inside their half but whilst that break didn't lead to a try,
it soon came.
George Carmont claimed it with a close range barge over in the
5th minute. Unusually he was out on the right wing for this score
but it was a try that left me thoroughly pissed off. My twitter
followers will know that I backed George to score the first try in
each of our last two home matches and he's let me down. I actually
thought I'd backed him for first try again but then a look at the
coupon revealed I'd actually backed him to score the last try and
had backed both Sam and Ginger Farrell to get the first try. To say
I was gutted was an understatement. Pat failed with the goal - 4-0
I was proper sulking but cheered up when the second try came in
the 9th minute. Great bullet pass from O'Loughlin sent Ryan Hoffman
over through another huge gap in the Bulls' defensive line. Pat
converted this one to make it 10-0.
For a while after that Bradford did improve in defence and that
would lead to enthusiasm up the other end of the field, but not
before Wigan claimed a third try in the 19th minute. Patrick Ah Van
should be sent to a darkened room for this effort. He'd fielded a
Sam Tomkins kick but showed no desire what so ever to attempt to
get out of the in goal. He ended up dropping the ball under a soft
collision and Carmont just had to place his hand on the loose ball
to claim a gift second try.
Pat missed the conversion again so the lead was just 14-0 and
Bradford got a rise out of those misses when they claimed a try
themselves on 23 minutes. This was actually the first time they'd
got past the half way line. Well I say "got past", it was
gifted to them when Jeff Lima knocked on in his own half. Marc
Herbert put a bomb up towards the posts, Brett Kearney did well to
flick it backwards and Craig Kopczak just had to plonk it down
under the posts. Ah Van converted to make it a very flattering
Wigan did hit back with their fourth score on the half hour.
Good passing towards the left saw Leuluai, O'Loughlin, Sam and
Carmont all get a touch before Richards was sent over in the
corner. Another miss with the boot though left the score at 18-6.
Bradford though scored their second try before half time. It was
an identical move to their first effort. This time Jeffries put the
kick in, Paul Sykes batted it back and John Bateman plonked down
for the score. Ah Van conversion made it 18-12 and that's how it
remained until the break.
The missed Pat conversions really made that half time score
flattering towards Bradford. They'd literally had two attacks all
game and scored on both of them, but in the second half I don't
think they got a single set of 6 on our line. Wigan absolutely
Eight second tries came in total and it was a trio of them in a
six minute spell, between 46 and 52 minutes, that saw the Bulls
collapse into submission.
The first try went to Sam Tomkins. Good play from Sean
O'Loughlin here. He was going left but he switched the direction
towards the right and Sam Tomkins did the rest. He got the ball,
threw the dummy, bolted, put two Bulls defenders on their backsides
before his step left full back Kearney flat footed and on his arse
as well. Under the sticks he went, so no messing from Pat this time
Moments later just a nice passing move got Josh Charnley over in
the right corner. O'Loughlin, Deacon, Sam and substitute Darrell
Goulding (who had replaced Joel Tomkins at right centre) got a
touch before Charnley scored easily. Conversion missed - 28-12.
Bradford were now all of the place and Wigan were showing no
mercy. Paul Sykes tried to stop Sam Tomkins the only way that seems
possible, i.e attempting decapitation, but video replays showed it
was perhaps worse than it looked. Soon after on the half way line,
a good offload from Paul Prescott allowed Farrell to send Sam
breaking away. He drew in the full back and sent O'Loughlin on a
thirty metre dash over the line. It was under the sticks so easily
converted - 34-12.
On 59 minutes another try came and it was a Pat trademark
special. Bomb was put up by Deacon towards his wing and Pat beat
Sykes in the air to score his second. He missed the kick off the
touchline - 38-12.
The game was now won and you couldn't have blamed Wigan had they
eased off with next week in mind but instead they produced four
more tries in the final quarter, three of them brilliant efforts
from long distance.
First on 64 minutes, Sam collected a Bulls knock on a metre from
his own posts and his brilliant step got him breaking away again.
Gareth Raynor did his best to chase him down, but his ankle tap
attempt proved a desperate effort as Sam went the full length. Try
converted for 44-12.
Next on 70 minutes Harrison Hansen scored from close range.
Three defenders couldn't stop him - great power over try! Missed
75th Minute and another Bulls knock on saw Sam clean up under
his own sticks. He couldn't find a gap this time but offloaded
towards Charnley on the right wing and he raced 80 metres to score
under the sticks. Easy kick made it 54-12.
I was begging Carmont to score the last try to return my bet but
it was Pat that scored the final try to complete his hat-trick.
Hock got the ball 30 from his own line and put in a superb fend off
which left Ian Sibbit on his backside. He then blindly offloaded a
superb pass to Pat who raced 60 metres under the posts. Easy
conversion left the final score 60-12 to Wigan.
So that was a great pre Wembley run out which can only leave us
Wigan fans drooling for next week, especially after Leeds became
only the second team to lose to Harlequins in 20 league matches on
Saturday. I'm struggling to see how they can stop us. We seem to be
getting fitter by the game rather than tiring. It just shows the
value of squad depth. Bring it on!