Not much really I can add to what the final score of 98-4 tells you
about this contest but Wigan will be disappointed not to have
racked up 100 points, having been 82-0 up on the hour. Josh
Charnley missed five conversions in all, including a sitter that
would have brought up the hundred.
With the score on the hour,
thoughts were towards the club record of 116-0, or stadium record
of 106-8, but North Wales managed to hang in enough during the last
ten minutes to avoid all that. In fact they claimed a try
themselves right at the death.
The match was lit up by a certain Sam Tomkins who had a field
day in scoring six tries. That is a summer era record for tries in
a match for Wigan and also a new record for most tries in a match
at DW Stadium, beating Sam's 5 v Whitehaven in 2008 and Pat's 5 v
Catalan in 2010. His end tally also fell one try short of equalling
the club record for most tries in a Challenge Cup match that was
set by Johnny Ring (seven tries - achieved twice) back in the
Shaun Wane decided to give debuts to academy talent in winger
Ryan King and prop forward Dominic Crosby. King came in for Anthony
Gelling on the left wing whilst Crosby went onto bench. He rested
Brett Finch, Harrison Hansen and Jeff Lima, whilst Liam Farrell
returned from injury. He started along with Jack Hughes in the back
row whilst Logan Tomkins continued at starting hooker.
The two debuts meant that Wane has now given six debuts to
academy players this season, a massive increase from just one in
the whole of last year being given a chance under Michael Maguire
(Jack Hughes). It means that 18 players have now played in our
first team this season who have come through the clubs academy
In fairness to North Wales in this game, it wasn't like Wigan
were just killing them with clean breaks right up the gut. That
came early second half, but early on all Wigan's damage was being
done on the edges.
Crusaders actually defended the kick off set we received pretty
well but the first try quickly came on four minutes with quick
hands getting Ryan King's Wigan career off to a perfect start in
the left corner. Josh converted for 6-0.
I made it 25 minutes before Crusaders even made our half of the
field with possession, so that summed up Wigan's dominance. We were
pretty error free and disciplined throughout this game and off the
back of that, the tries just flowed.
Second score came on 8 minutes with Sam Tomkins dummying over
down the right hand side from close range. Charnley converted for
12-0. Then he was over again, this time down the left, with a
simple run from a scrum. Josh missed that goal.
Fourth try followed on 19 Minutes. Error from Crusaders Scrum
Half Jamie Durbin was snaffled up by Wigan. One Eric Lauaki drive
later and Josh was sent in the right corner. Good work by him to
round it nearer the sticks, which gave him an easier conversion for
Four minutes later the fifth try came, although I'm sure how we
got the scrum that led to this one. Gareth Hock was bursting
through but tried a ridiculous offload that was never on. Looked a
clear knock on, but we won the scrum and a soft try emerged from it
with Tommy quickly firing out right to get King over for his second
try on debut. Josh wasn't getting many easy kicks and he missed
this one - 26-0.
At this point Paul Prescott and Eric Lauaki departed the field
with "Henderson" Gil Dudson and Dom Crosby coming on. I think
Crosby remained on the field for the rest of the game and had a
excellent debut. Granted it was meek opposition but you couldn't
fault him for hard work.
No sooner had Crusaders got a bit of joy by reaching Wigan's
half in possession for the first time, they were gathering back
under the sticks for the sixth time. It was Wigan's first clean
break of the game and it came from Sam, right up the gut! Ginger
Farrell once again proved what an excellent support player he is by
backing up the break and receiving the pass to go under the posts.
Simple conversion for Josh made it 32-0. Thenn the half hour, Sam
completed his hat-trick by punishing another Crusaders error but a
missed conversion left the score at 36-0.
Wane was now looking towards next week by withdrawing George
Carmont from left centre, with Jack Hughes switching to that
position. Mike McIlorum also came on for Logan at this point.
North Wales amazingly tried a short kick off at this point but
it all went wrong for them. Not only did it fail to go ten but
referee George Stokes gave them offside as well! That error led to
two more tries came before half time. First Joe Mellor scooted over
from close range before Sam claimed his fourth after backing up a
breaks from first Crosby, then Chris Tuson. Josh converted both
those efforts to make it 48-0 at the break, although King was
unlucky to have an hat-trick try chalked off for a forward pass.
No doubt Crusaders would have probably talked about holding
Wigan for ten minutes early second half but they managed to hold
out just 57 seconds. They had a whole set in that time and had
kicked to Sam on a last tackle. He gathered the ball on the left
hand side, about 70 metres out, and went on a diagonal run towards
the right wing. He found a half break before nailing Charnley with
a beautiful pass. Josh had a couple of defenders to beat but his
footwork did it and he rounded off under the posts, easy conversion
Wigan were now rioting with two tries quickly following that.
First Chris Tuson finished a break from Thomas Leuluai before Liam
Farrell claimed his second. Charnley converted both to make it 66-0
after 48 minutes.
Wane continued to withdraw key players. Farrell had actually
switched to right centre at half time with Darrell Goulding being
removed whilst Gareth Hock also came off on 50 minutes. Didn't stop
Wigan's flow because McIlorum sent Prescott over for his first ever
try in a home match at DW Stadium. Conversion made it 72-0 and
straight from the kick off it was Sam claiming his fifth try.
Straight up the gut from 70 metres he scored a blinder! Converted
again for 78-0. Then Farrell completed his hat-trick with Sam doing
the damage up the middle again. Josh hit a bad conversion but now
the hour mark had been reached with an 82-0 lead.
Sam was all over them by now and another break from him on 62
minutes should have been gathered under the posts. He had been
stopped a bugs dick away but had offloading towards two unmarked
support players who only had to gather to go over from three metres
out but they knocked on.
Didn't matter because Sam's brother Logan got in on the act on
64 minutes before Sam claimed his stadium and summer era record
sixth try of the match three minutes later. Two Charnley
conversions making it 94-0 with 12 minutes to go.
The 100 looked a dead cert but Wigan somehow didn't managed to
achieve it. They got the try that was required when Crosby capped
off his debut with a deserved try on 72 minutes. It wasn't easy but
it gave Josh an easy enough conversion for the 100. Or so I thought
having tweeted it before he kicked it but he missed a sitter. That
worries me that. His goal kicking consistency is baffling.
Sometimes he looks confident kicking blinders off the touchline but
twice he missed very easy efforts during this game. He'll do a good
back up job for sure but he isn't showing top quality with the
boot, yet! Very harsh to expect that though I know but perhaps
today was an opportunity to try Sam out and see what he can do with
the goal kicking?
Anyway that missed sitter left the score at 98-0 and that proved
to be our 18th and last try of the game. In fact it was Crusaders
who got the last try with a 78th Minute effort from Owain Brown
that had the whole stadium cheering. Conversion was missed by Leon
Wigan had less than a minute but tried a short kick off in
search of the 100 points but it was gathered and Crusaders had
survived with just a double digit defeat. Wigan though are looking
pretty good in kicking on towards this crucial league, then cup,
then league, then cup phase of the season. Momentum is looking good
but it'll be the discipline and low error rate I suspect that will
please Shaun Wane most about todays performance. It's been pretty
good in the past three weeks and I hope that is going to be the
standard for the rest of the season.