"I think fans might just need to not expect too much over the
coming weeks. It is pointless and energy wasting to (give 100% peak
performance) against teams like Widnes for example. We probably
won't need to fire anywhere near top gear to beat them. If we do
fire, well great, but no point peaking for this if we flat for
energy in the cup semi final!"
The words in my match preview.
You see I know what I'm talking about sometimes lol. Only first
gear required and yet we still won this with relative ease.
Thomas Leuluai's injury picked up in the England v Exiles
yawnfest last week meant Sean O'Loughlin switched to Stand Off with
Brett Finch moving to scrum half. We've also lost Jeff Lima for a
couple of games after he reportedly fractured an eyesocket in
training after a clash of heads with Paul Prescott. Cynical me
reckons that's clever stuff from Preccy because it got him straight
back in the team for this one, albeit on the bench.
The Widnes side included Joe Mellor, despite him being on loan
from Wigan whilst ex Warriors Cameron Phelps, Ben Cross, Ben
Davies, Shaun Briscoe and Dave Allen were also in Denis Betts side.
I just wonder if Betts conducted his pre match team talk in
dominatrix gear and told all his players to be "bad boys" because
their discipline in this match was pretty dire. Gifting Wigan
penalties is asking for trouble and Wigan clinically punished those
naughty Widnes boys.
3rd Minute, after Widnes were caught offside, Wigan go right and
a long pass from Liam Farrell sends Josh Charnley in the corner. He
can't convert but an easy 4-0 lead is on the board.
10th minute, Widnes penalty for holding down, and this time Mike
McIlorum finished off. Cheeky dummy got him away but the defence
was quite poor. Charnley converted for 10-0.
13th minute, Widnes high shot penalty conceded, and good hands
from Finch and Sam got Carmont busting in the left corner. Josh
made it 16-0 and all things looked ominous.
After that however we had a sloppy twenty minutes, whilst the
visitors got some possession to get back into the contest. Letting
Ben Cross score under the posts on 18 minutes is pretty soft for
Wigan's standards however. Easy conversion for 16-6.
A little bit of alarm with that score but another sweaty moment
followed on 22 minutes when Widnes almost intercepted to score from
90 metres. However, to brutally honest, the fitness of Widnes' team
has to be brought into question here. How the hell did they not
score? They had a clear four man break but none of them had the
legs to complete it and a couple of those breaking were struggling
after the first ten metres. Nearest to scoring was Joe Mellor, and
guess what, he did all his fitness training here at Wigan! It
really was like they were running through the heavy mud at
Glastonbury. Credit to the chasing back from Jack Hughes, who
stopped him short, but that really should have been shut the gate
and over under the sticks. I think its appalling they didn't have
the legs to complete that. They've just had a week off as well!
Anyway Wigan soon got full control of the game back with two
scores on 35 and 38 minutes. First Prescott marked his return with
a rare try from close range before Anthony Gelling went over in the
left corner. Charnley converted both for 28-6 but Widnes had the
last laugh of the half with Mellor completing a gift interception
right on the hooter.
With a coach like Waney, who gives the impression he eats raw
meat for breakfast, I was always confident we would get the first
score after half time to complete this job. Classy effort from
Finch who throws a dummy that allows him to mug Willie Isa and Dave
Allen in the process of scoring. Charnley converts for 34-6.
After that it was a case of how many. Next Wigan try came on 55
minutes with Charnley claiming his second following some garbage
defending by Patrick Ah Van. I remember Ray French describing our
first try in the famous 1989 cup final as "rank bad tackling" (well
I think he said rank?) and this matched that for poor quality.
"Strength from Charnley" said Eddie Hemmings but a toddler would of
scored that against Ah Van's defensive efforts. Conversion missed -
Then on 67 minutes it was Shaun Briscoe who was lazy in defence.
I know he's been out a while, but a stab to the corner from Sam was
Briscoe's to deal with all day but he let Josh get a hand on it for
the hat-trick. His third treble of the season, which also meant
Josh overtook Danny Tickle to become top Super League points
scorer. He also nailed a beauty conversion for 44-6. Much better
with his goal kicking tonight.
Two further tries came in the final ten minutes. First a sharp
pass from O'Loughlin got Finch under the sticks for his second
before Sam claimed the last try of the night from close range with
two minutes to go. I didn't think Finch or Sam were anywhere near
their top form tonight but they didn't need to be. A further goal
from Josh completed a very comfortable 54-12 win and meant we
reclaimed our three point lead at the top of Super League.
Shaun Wane seems happy just to get the two points and so am I.
The manner of it didn't really matter. I think slipping back a few
gears for this game after peaking during the difficult pre
international break run was perhaps always inevitable. I'm
confident we'll be better on Friday and it's all about peaking for
that Cup Semi Final in 3 weeks time. Wane added that McIlorum was
the "outstanding player" on the night and he was spot on. Excellent