Having had a heavy night last night (getting in at 3:30am), I
wasn't really fancying the 8:30am get up to go to Hull KR but, for
pre season standards, it was a good game over on the East Coast. I
think both sides will take a lot of out that hit out.
The thing that's strikes me most from today's showing is how
much depth we have in our forwards this season, especially
considering that neither Stuart Fielden, Sean O'Loughlin, Paul Prescott or Gareth
Hock were involved. It was a very workmanlike pack effort today
with Epalahame (Eric) Lauaki, "Henderson" Gil Dudson, Ben Flower
and academy prop Tom Spencer all looking solid alongside Lee Mossop
and Jeff Lima up front. Add to that the back row contributions from
the likes of Liam Farrell, Chris Tuson and Jack Hughes, we have an
unbelievable amount of options in the forwards.
Coach Shaun Wane chose to give Matty Russell a run out at Full
Back and I thought he recovered well from fumbling a bomb early in
the game. His head could have dropped from that but he recovered to
score an excellent try.
Anthony Gelling made a couple of decent breaks during the game.
He is a tall lad that looks the part at centre but we didn't really
see him tested to much in defence today. He certainly didn't
struggle and look out of place.
The other youngsters trying to impress today were Sam Powell,
Logan Tomkins and Joe Mellor. Powell started at Scrum Half but I
can't say he stood out to me. I'm still leaning towards the fact
that this is 12 months too early for him. Logan Tomkins was solid
enough at hooker but it was a very defensive game today to really
judge him too much. Joe Mellor had a brief spell second half at
Full Back but I'm surprised he wasn't given more game time.
Like I said, it was a very defensive contest. For long periods
it was a midfield battle between the packs and with Phil Bentham
hardly giving any penalties, neither side was making much headway.
First real opportunity fell to Wigan on 10 minutes when they
forced Rovers into a drop out but we couldn't find the opening
Then the home side had a good spell that saw them take the lead.
They had gone close on 14 minutes but ex Warrior Dave Hodgson
knocked on trying to score in the left corner. It was a kick that
undid us though three minutes later. It was nicely weighted and
Jake Webster won the race to ground the ball near the posts. Easy
conversion for Craig Hall made it 6-0.
Rovers good spell continued off the back of that defensive knock
on by Matty Russell that I mentioned earlier. They forced a drop
out but Wigan's defence but we survived quite comfortably.
Wigan were not really putting much pressure on it attack but you
had to credit the Rovers defence really. I can't really say we were
playing poor. It was just a good battle right up the middle between
both sides. The difference at this point though was the last
tackles. They were putting in better kicks than us.
It was looking like that 6-0 lead would survive all the way to
half time but Wigan scored a classy try seconds before the hooter.
Darrell Goulding made a half break and offloaded superbly to
youngster Russell who race 40-50 metres under the sticks. He needed
his pace to beat defenders for that score, an excellent try. Easy
Pat conversion tied the scores to 6-6 at the break.
The only slight worry was Lee Mossop coming off with a knock to
the leg that had the doctor looking concerned, but he came back on
later so I don't think it was too serious.
Now KR had chosen to use six more substitutes than Wigan in this
game and you have to say that it helped towards the end control of
the result for Wigan. Don't let that take away from Wigan's
victory, because we had quite a few youngsters out there today
ourselves, but it was perhaps a contributing factor in the end.
Wigan made one or two switches after the break with Jack Hughes
coming on at centre for Gelling and Mike McIlorum replaced Logan
Tomkins. Wigan continued to work away but what did improve was our
kicking game, it was much better second half and that led to us
taking the lead on 48 minutes.
Having just survived a Rovers drop out, Wigan were soon up the
other end after McIlorum had made a good break up the middle. He
had been trapped but Finch had spotted Pat free out wide and dabbed
a grubber towards his corner. Two Rovers players should have had it
covered between them but they collided with each other and Pat had
a gift score to open his 2012 try tally. Easy conversion as well
with him rounding under the sticks for 12-6.
Even though Rovers were using a lot of reserves late in the
game, you have to credit them that they didn't buckle. It was still
a tough physical contest right until the last ten minutes when
Wigan got on top.
We claimed two late scores in those last ten minutes. First Josh
Charnley scored moments after he had been held up in the same right
corner. Pat hit a sweet touchline conversion for 18-6 before
claiming a second try for himself. Good break from Mossop saw him
draw in the full back before finding Finch to send Pat in the left
corner. He couldn't convert this time and that ended the scoring at
So I think for a first outing this was a good run out. The only
real negative I come away with was us throwing a forward pass at a
tap twenty at one point. I'm not sure who threw it but whoever it
was - go to your room! Good to have the rugby back, even it was a
bit on the nippy side in terms of weather.