Well how could you not enjoy this one. A very special performance
from Wigan Rugby League Football Club. Shaun Wane said in the build
up to this game "One day we'll attack at our best and
defend at our best and butcher somebody. I hope it's this weekend."
- well I think we can call that a butchering, don't you?
minutes in this game, I was reminding myself, and others, of
attending the Magic Weekend in 2008. Back then we had lost
miserably 46-10 at Knowsley Road on Good Friday and I travelled to
Cardiff expecting a Wigan backlash. Instead we got a pathetic
display that saw us losing 35-0 at half time before the final score
of 57-16. My match report for that one slaughtered the team as a
"shower of shite" after a "embarrassing, pathetic, gutless,
passionless, disgrace to the shirt" performance. I even suggested
Sean O'Loughlin should resign as captain in that
match report. That's history for you though and it's what being
a proper fan is all about. Those low days, and personally that was
my lowest day as a Wigan supporter, make these days all the more
The only slight negative really is how flattering the final
score of 42-16 was to St Helens. Wigan were, for me, the missed
conversions and the two red cards we got from that being a 60+
points win. We killed them all over the park with pace, power and
sheer class that they just could not get close to matching.
My magic weekend began on Saturday after I ended up with a free
ticket for Day 1 of the event. I arrived about half an hour into
Warrington's training session and they already led 40-0 before I'd
seen anything. So from what I actually saw Widnes put in a great
effort to only lose 22-4, well done!
Then came the Hull derby in which I ended up second half sat in
front of the most one eyed supporter I've ever come across. She was
a Hull FC fan and spent all 80 minutes shouting stuff like "I see
you've got your Hull KR specs on Ganson." - "You've had too many
pies Ganson, you can't keep up with play" - "F***ing nowt wrong
with that, your an arsehole Ganson". Then at full time she had a go
at my girlfriend after a comment by her that was simply "that was a
great game" then launched a tirade at a Hull KR fan that was sat
nearby. It was so bad I ended up sound recording her venom
and I might get round to putting it on You Tube eventually. It was
funny and embarrassing at the same time. Also embarrassing by the
way was the amount of red raw badly burned T-Shirt tans I witnessed
over the weekend. Typical Brits lol!
Day Two was much better than Day One. I don't think the hour gap
between the kick offs worked on the first day. Bang, bang, bang,
bang, all the games back to back was much better. Although our
particular match was a long time in coming, it was well worth the
Wigan made one change from the Huddersfield win, with Eric
Lauaki returning for Dom Crosby, and they set off the make hay
whilst the sun shined right from the start of the one by blowing
Saints away inside five tries inside 24 minutes. The first two both
came from deep breaks through pathetic tackle attempts from the
supposedly "strong" Sia Soliola.
First it was Brett Finch to break through from half way. Watch
his class on the replay as he makes sure he draws in full back Slug
Wellens before offloading to send the supporting Sam Tomkins under
the sticks. Easy conversion for Josh Charnley, who retained the
goal kicking despite his poor display at Huddersfield last week.
Then on 11 minutes it was Tommy Leuluai's pass that sent Gareth
Hock through Soliola's mis-tackle and he put in a beautiful jinking
step to beat and leave Slug on his backside. Under the posts again
for another easy Josh conversion and a 12-0 lead.
Saints really struggled to get a foothold in the contest and
three tries in five minutes, either side of the 20 minute mark, put
Wigan in full control.
First Josh Charnley scored the 50th try of his short Wigan
career with good hands getting him in the right corner. Good
offload from Harrison Hansen allowed Darrell Goulding to give
Charnley a basket ball type pass for easy plonk down. He couldn't
Then off the restart came an individual try that was all class
from Sam Tomkins. He gets the ball 60 metres out and throws an
outrageous dummy that mesmerised Gary Wheeler and Lance Hohaia. He
then burned them, and Slug Wellens, off with his pace to score in
the right corner. Charnley converted for 22-0.
Restart again and another try came to put the Wigan fans in pure
party mode. Good crisp passing again for this one. Finch, Leuluai
and O'Loughlin combined before Fuzzy Goulding, looking ever the
more a classy centre, offloads a superb return pass to get Lockers
over. Slug wasn't happy and went moaning at referee Ben Thaler who
told him to "put his hands down" as he was gesturing away. Bugger
knows what he was moaning at but he's a world champion at it for
sure. Charnley missed the extras but at 26-0, this game was well
and truly over and we are left thinking how many!
Wigan continued to pile on the pressure. They forced a drop out
on the next set but Fuzzy knocked on a bugs dick away from scoring
our sixth try of the contest.
The next try however went to St Helens and typically it was a
barge over effort with an offload from Jonny Lomax sent Paul Clough
over from 0.000831 metres out. Lomax conversion for 26-6 with 4
minutes to half time.
Now I think Saints would have been made up with that score,
because they had been totally annihilated, but Wigan managed to
claim that sixth try right on half time. In fact they got the play
the ball away for this one with about half a second to go I reckon
and went across the field to send Charnley in for his second.
Carmont, Finch, McIlorum, Lima, Leuluai, O'Loughlin and Goulding
all got a touch but it was class from Fuzzy again who put in a
lovely little dink kick for Josh to finish. Brilliant centre play.
Charnley missed his third conversion but that try right on the
hooter was like stabbing someone who was already on a life support
Half Time saw Wigan fans celebrating already with a massive sing
song on the concourse. It wasn't as big as the full time effort but
I think we all realised what a special performance we were
witnessing. All we needed to do was get that first try after the
restart and the old soldier with only one fit knee, Sir George
Carmont, finished an effort that Martin Offiah in his peak would of
been proud of, never mind an almost 34 year old!
It was just two minutes in and George gets the ball 80 metres
out. Terrible tackling in fairness. Michael Shenton and Lomax went
far too high but George nailed the Slug and a couple more defenders
for pace to finish in the left corner. Charnley missed his fourth
conversion but at 34-6 who the hell cared.
Game over but the drama had perhaps not yet started. The game
bubbled over on 52 minutes with a cracking brawl that was close to
rivalling the famous 2004 Good Friday fight. It all started with
some hand bags between Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Gareth Hock
that ended up with Hock swinging some uppercuts at him. Hock nailed
him with at least three punches I reckon.
However at the other side of the scrum we had Shaun Magennis and
Chris Tuson squaring up. It was just shirt pulling at first but
once Tuson had turned his head away, Magennis, in the words of
legendary flag waver "Barry Chuckle", "copped him a beauty". Tuson
reacted like any player should in a derby, responding with fists
flying. He landed at least three uppercuts himself. "Good lad him"
as my old nan would say! Then Lee Mossop came in with just one
punch that put Magennis flat on his arse to a massive cheer from
the Wigan fans.
I found it amazing though that this fight was being condemned by
Sky TV's commentary team and some of the media. I mean the Daily
Mirror said this biff "marred" the contest. If they think it did
then those media men condemning it need to try and get out of the
commentary/press boxes once in a while and get back on the
terraces. Most fans in the stadium, and watching on Sky Sports,
will have loved that! Don't get me wrong, I'm no supporter of
violence but sometimes, and I stress sometimes, passions get high
and you are going to get things boiling over in an aggressive sport
like ours every now an again.
Referee Ben Thaler's response was to red card Hock, Tuson and
Magennis, meaning Saints had a 12 to 11 man advantage for the rest
of the game. That ended up spoiling the contest but Thaler wasn't
to know that at the time. I actually think he dealt with it
reasonably well. I know some are questioning why McCarthy-Scarsbrook
didn't go but if you look at it, he didn't throw a punch so I'm ok
with that. What I would say is that I think sin binning's would
have been better for the three that went. I'm not sure what
suspensions will achieve either. I do think Magennis was way out of
order for hitting Tuson when he was off guard though. A fair fight
is a fair fight but that is poor I think.
At the end of the day both coaches summed it up with a just "two
packs having a bit of biff" type response and the only real winner
out of the red cards and suspensions that will follow will be
Leeds. I mean Saints won't miss Magennis, whilst we are expecting
to go to Headingley on Friday without Mossop, Hock and Tuson. I
don't see the point really of what the suspension will achieve. Do
you think those players had time to think "oh you know what I
better not react to this situation because I might get a ban?".
Particularly Tuson. What was he supposed to do after copping a
cheap one? Either way we will have some absences for the Leeds trip
but a Shaun Wane pack seems so motivated that I'm confident he
could get the pack from our Under 15s side to compete at this
Anyway following that the game died really. The extra man did
help Saints to score two tries to our one in the last 25 minutes
but in the main we were always solid enough. The first Saints try
came just three minutes after the brawl when McCarthy-Scarsbrook
scored an excellent 40 metre (yes 40 metres not a barge over) solo
effort. Lomax converted for 34-12.
Wigan never looked in danger though and began to shut up shop a
little with options to "take the two" being attempted twice. The
first one missed by Josh but he hit a much easier second effort to
make it 36-12 on 64 minutes.
Then we still had enough class with a man down to add another
quality try to our end tally of eight for the day. Fuzzy again got
Charnley away down the right and he was outpacing Francis Meli.
Then he just stepped into Slug enough to allow an offload to send
"The Ginger Pearl" Liam Farrell over for an easy touchdown under
the sticks. He had a beaming smile for all the Wigan fans at that
end. Charnley converted for 42-12.
Saints did get a further consolation, which Slug scored on 74
minutes, but like I said earlier the final score of 42-16 really
did flatter Saints. Wigan had far too much pace and quality that
just couldn't be matched from the enemy. I feel a bit sorry for
them when they have to endure Slug at full back and the no pace
twins (Gardner and Meli) on each wing when in comparison we had try
scoring demons in Sam. Josh and, when fit, Pat! I mean a quick
tally on my part shows that in the past two and a half years out of
Sam, Goulding (2010)/Josh (2011 to now) and Pat we've had 216
tries. Saints from Wellens, Meli, Gardner and I'll chuck in Jamie
Foster who scored 20 last year as well, have had 99 tries in
comparison. It's a yawning chasm of difference that really
highlights the difference between the two sides. Long may it