To be without Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Thomas Leuluai, Paul
Prescott, Harrison Hansen, Jeff Lima, Chris Tuson and "Henderson"
Gil Dudson ahead of this game was bad enough, but to lose Darrell
Goulding first half, then get Mike McIlorum sent off in what was
our second match in five days, it really shouldn't have come a
surprise to see Bradford sneak this game in the end.
I mean in
the last 25 minutes of this game we had 10 of our first 17
squad numbers absent from the park and it just caught up with us on
this occasion. However with Warrington having bombed heavily at
Salford, meaning we remain three points clear despite the loss, we
shouldn't be too downhearted about the defeat.
I'm certainly not downhearted. I fully expected Bradford to come here and
produce a hearty performance given the current circumstances they
are in. That win could be the difference between life and death for
them! I'm also content that the sending off was the turning point.
Not just so much that it sent us down to 12 men, but it visibly
lifted the Bulls team and they smothered us in the last quarter,
giving us no chance of winning the contest.
The Warrington defeat
definitely makes this one a better pill to swallow though. We could
of both won and it'd still have been a three point gap, so has
anything really changed? I suppose Catalan have a big chance to
make ground considering they hold a game in hand, but the best
thing from our point of view is that Warrington and Catalan below
us play each other next weekend on Monday Night. They both can't
Anyway, back to this game and following Monday's victory
over Widnes, Wigan left Sam Tomkins and Paul Prescott out with Jack
Murphy coming in to debut at Full Back and Ben Flower returning on
the bench for his first appearance since March at Salford. All
these injuries might look bad but I believe this is more of a "not
risking" kind of situation rather than massive long term worries.
Seems to be the case that quite a few will return for next weekend.
The Cup Semi Final looming is far more important than these two
points. That's what having a three point buffer at the top of the
table gives you.
I have to say that I thought Murphy was
excellent on debut. I wasn't expecting much to be brutally honest
but not only did he finish an excellent try but he also dealt with
everything the Bulls threw at him in defence. Nice to see Flower
return with his first Wigan try also.
Wigan got off to the
perfect start with Gareth Hock's offload sending Carmont on the
break in the 4th Minute. He then sent Anthony Gelling in the corner
but Josh Charnley couldn't convert, so the lead was just 4-0.
That lead should have been at least doubled on 8 minutes when
Ginger Farrell broke brilliantly right up the gut of the Bradford
defence. However his offload to the supporting Darrell Goulding was
badly mis-timed and the latter was soon tackled by Karl Pryce.
Clear bombed try and highlighted further by Pryce's desperate
holding down on Goulding that saw him sent to the sin bin for ten
minutes by referee Tim Roby. Needed to be done because it was a
certain try with five Wigan attackers waiting for the play the ball
with no defenders to our right.
Could of been a costly sin bin
but in the end I think it was clever. Had we got 10-0 in 8 minutes,
this game could have escaped Bradford quickly but although they did
eventually concede during the sin bin period, it came after a spell
of attack from them, that had at least settled into the arm
The try though was beauty. From just inside his own
half, debutant Murphy broke through toddler defending from Brett
Kearney before burning off ex Warrior Shaun Ainscough for pace to
score close to the posts. Easy conversion made it 10-0 after 16
All was looking reasonable good but sadly Wigan gifted
Bradford an opportunity back into the contest on 22 minutes. Eric
Lauaki was guilty of a poor knock on inside his own quarter and
soon after Karl Pryce scored his trademark walk in try for Bradford
in the left corner. Luke Gale's conversion off the touchline made
Soon after that score we saw Darrell Goulding limp from
the field with Jack Hughes coming on to play at right centre. Big
blow that because that left us without a second row interchange and
meant 18 year old Rhodri Lloyd, making only his third Wigan
appearance, was forced to continue his first Wigan start far longer
Bradford took the lead on 31 minutes with their second score
after Keith Lulia's excellent break was finished off by Kearney.
Gale converted for a 12-10 Bulls lead.
Wigan though retook the
lead on 37 minutes when Ben Flower was sent over by Sean O'Loughlin
from close range, right by the posts for an easy conversion, but
given the time it should of been held to half time. It wasn't
though, Keith Lulia scored just before the hooter and after a
conversion from Gale, Bradford led 18-16 at the break.
Rain Shower hit at the start of the second half and it seemed to be
Wigan who dealt with this spell better. We had made Bradford drop
out twice before Dom Crosby finally converted the pressure on 51
minutes. Charnley's conversion made it 22-18 to Wigan.
the lead it was now time for calm play and I think the next score
had it gone our way would have won us the match. Instead we got
stupidity from Mike McIlorum that went a long way to losing us the
Basically McIlorum was tackling Olivier Elima in front of
his own posts. Now Elima got up with Mac still on him and was
flinging his elbows about trying to shrug him off. Having seen
video, I think it's inconclusive whether he actually connected with
McIlorum but the Wigan man reacted with a solo punch. I actually
think Elima did him up like a kipper because rather than reacting,
he went down like Didier Drogba clutching his face. I don't think
anyone could argue against the red card that followed and he will
now be left to sweat on whether he misses the Semi Final.
Wigan now had to play out the last 23 minutes with 12 men. Rhodri
Lloyd was sacrificed to allow Logan Tomkins to come on and take
over at hooker but a combination of a lifted and fired up Bradford
and a Wigan side smothered into mistakes meant that we starved of
possession from here on in and Bradford's pressure just had to
They scored two tries in 6 minutes on 67 and 73 minutes to
win the game. First Elliott Whitehead scored before Karl Pryce
claimed his second after a good kick to his wing just couldn't be
dealt with by Charnley. Both tries being crucially converted to
give the Bulls a two score 30-22 lead. Wigan never went close to
troubling that. This just wasn't our day.