Well John Winder's Under 20s side came into this contest
have failed to win any of their last four matches. I've
been reporting on our academy for ten years now for this
website and that was a worst ever run in all that time at
this Senior Academy level. Whilst that looks negative for
the current set up, it also highlights how consistently
dominant a team we have been in the youth ranks over all
It's been a funny season so far though at this
level. This is the 9th match of the season and already 33
players have been used. The fact Shaun Wane has given ten
first team debuts, on top of nine players being sent out on
dual-registration, has left John Winder with a very
unsettled side. But it's been goal kicking that has
actually been costing them results. Two of the recent
defeats saw Wigan equal the opposition for tries but lose
for kicking two less conversions. It really highlights the
value of a top draw goal kicker.
In this match though it was a much younger Under 20s
side than in recent games. The absence of Ryan King,
Anthony Gelling and Matty Russell in the back five saw the
impressive Joe Burgess step up from his hot form in the
Under 18s which had seen him score 8 tries in 3 matches at
that level. Opposite winger Joe Bullock was also making
just his third Under 20s appearance as well.
Also stepping up for his first start in the 20s was
impressive half back Ryan "Rocky" Hampshire. He totally
controlled this contest for Wigan off the back of a hard
front row effort from "Henderson" Gil Dudson and Dom
Crosby. Hampshire is looking all quality!
Wigan got into Rovers right from the off with Burgess
unlucky not to a claim an early try with offside being
called by referee Dave Sharpe. Minutes later though Wigan
did get a try with centre John O'Donnell getting over,
attacking the same left wing on 8 minutes. Then on 20
minutes he went over for a second score with a nice solo
break. Murphy missed both his first conversion attempts but
once that second try had gone in, Wigan found a roll on.
Four more tries followed in the 20 minutes up to half time.
For me the Under 20s player of the season so far is the
Welsh Second Rower Rhodri Lloyd and he was at the heart of
the next two tries. First he scored himself after being
sent in by Scott Leatherbarrow, then he was sent on the
breakaway from Hampshire's pass before the supporting Jack
Murphy finished the move.
Then Hampshire himself scored a Sam Tomkins like
majestic solo try, in which he ghosted round three or four
defenders in the process, before Joe Burgess crossed in the
left corner to complete the first half try scoring. Having
missed with his first two goals, Murphy had converted every
one of the last four to leave the score line at 32-0 half
Rovers came out second half having clearly been rallied
by coach Kev Deighton at half time. They had a right go at
Wigan early on but our defence stood mightily firm and then
put a dagger in the hearts of the visitors by going up the
other end and scoring after soaking up all that pressure.
47th Minute it was and Murphy claimed his second try before
completing his hat-trick just three minutes later. That
took his try tally at this level to 10 in 8 games this
season, two further conversions from him making it 44-0.
The visitors then had another good spell after that
brace of tries but Wigan again soaked up the defensive
pressure before sticking that dagger deeper into Rovers
wounds. Wigan had a tap twenty and Burgess tapped it
himself and ran 80 metres for his second score of the
match. Brilliant thinking! Murphy missed the conversion for
Now I must admit I left the game a this point. I was a
bit bored of the procession to be honest, but I was amazed
to learn when I got home that I had missed no further Wigan
try scoring in the final quarter of the match. In fact it
was Rovers who claimed three tries, with help of a Wigan
sin bin for Wigan's mot so Ginger (Connor) Farrell. Final
score was 48-14.
The next Under 20s game is next weekend and its the mini
derby v St Helens. This fixture has switched from
Saturday to Friday Night at Orrell because the first team
cup tie on the Saturday. Kick Off is 6:00pm.