Simple but effective - that's how I would describe this win. "It
was like watching two different teams" was the common post match
consensus when comparing last week to this week.
The bottom line
was that this time was that all our key men performed. The Spine of
the team (Positions 1, 6, 7, 9 and 13) needs to perform for any
team to have success in big games and they all contributed far, far
better than against Huddersfield.
Leeds though were extremely disappointing. Ok, they might use
the excuse of the World Club Challenge being on the horizon but I
can't remember too many matches against Leeds in which we eased to
victory. Once we got 12-0 up around the half hour mark, I never
felt that we looked like we'd lose.
That's probably the biggest positive for me. At 14-6 we could
have panicked and collapsed under momentum of a Leeds comeback. But
we kept calm and sticked to the basic gameplan. Our defence barely
buckled all night with the only Leeds threat coming from Rob
Burrow's probing runs at hooker.
Coach Wane decided to stick Jack Hughes at Centre in place of
the injured George Carmont. It was clear from pre season that Wane
saw Hughes as cover for centre, even though 95% of his academy
appearances have been as a back row forward, and he did a good job
I thought. Not much in attack to be fair but very solid
defensively. Thought Tom Spencer, making his debut, had a solid 10
minute spell off the bench as well.
It looked like Wigan had made a perfect start when Josh Charnley
had scored in the right corner after just 4 minutes but the video
referee Richard Silverwood chalked it off for obstruction. In
fairness they are consistently bad in deciding these decisions but
I come back to the same point - they might as well ban dummy
running when matches are televised. Just ban it - in fact just have
players standing around doing sod all, that'll make a good product
for tv won't it? Actually it will it seems, its a sport called
Anyway......after that it was a bit of a midfield battle. A bit
of alarm for Wigan when Jamie Jones-Buchanan made a good break up
the left wing but that proved to be a rare break.
Once the 10 minute mark had past, Wigan began to turn the screw.
We all saw how poor our kicking game was against Huddersfield but
it was much better tonight. On 12 Minutes Thomas Leuluai got a good
kick away towards the right corner, despite being cleaning panned
by Carl Ablett, which forced Ryan Hall to concede a drop out.
Wigan didn't score from that drop out but the try soon came with
a bit of class opening Leeds up down the right. Good simple passing
saw Finch, Leuluai, Tomkins and Goulding all combine to get
Charnley chiming into a huge overlap. Still had 40 metres to go but
his pace was far too good for the Rhinos defence. Note the class
step he put in to mug the experienced full back Brent Webb as well.
A pleasure to watch. He rounded under the sticks, which made the
conversion easy for Pat Richards.
A rare error from Wigan gifted Leeds a chance to get back into
the game on 18 minutes but although they forced a drop out, they
were far too flat in attack to trouble Wigan.
Wigan's second try can be attributed solely to Weller Hauarki.
He shown poor discipline in conceding two penalties that got Leeds
on the back foot, the second of which saw him having a bit of biff
with Mike McIlorum. Referee Thierry Alibert didn't stop the clock,
so 100 seconds went by whilst he dealt with that incident but Wigan
soon scored from the penalty they got.
Second tackle and Sam Tomkins burst through a missed tackle by
Rob Burrow down the right wing before sending Charnley over for his
second of the night.
On 33 minutes Wigan had another opportunity after a good kick
from Finch towards the left wing saw Pat Richards taken out in the
air by Danny McGuire. It was a clear tactic of his in the game here
at DW Stadium last season but he didn't get away with it this time.
Sadly Wigan wasted the penalty but the fact Leeds greeted our knock
on with a huge cheer told you that they were mightily relieved this
score was only 12-0.
Time drifted to half time and the second half starting in quiet
fashion as well. Wigan got a penalty on 49 minutes and it was an
easy decision for Pat to take the two. It created a three score
lead that always looked a winnable lead.
Even when Leeds hit back five minutes later with a barge over
try from Darrell Griffin, they never really kicked on from that. An
easy Sinfield conversion made it 14-6 but with him and McGuire both
being totally anonymous, they lacked punch to fightback.
Wigan wrapped up an hard fought but easy win with a score on 64
minutes. Charnley had score two tries on seven occasions last
season but had never got on to claim a hat-trick so this first one
of his Wigan career was a long time coming. Sean O'Loughlin sent
Darrell Goulding chiming at the line, but his excellent offload
back to the captain that created the overlap for Josh to touch down
easily. Richards touchline conversion to make it 20-6 was a final
dagger in Leeds heart. This game was won with 15 minutes to go.
So all in all a good response to last week. I think the pack
effort again was solid and workmanlike with Eric Lauaki and Ben
Flower contributing solidly. Quite of lot of Wigan fans will be
eating humble pie after this game, as seen by the
thread on our message board. A lot of doom and gloom last week
but that performance showed that whilst we might not be
the top team this year, we will
still be a very competitive outfit.