Simple reason why Wigan lost this contest for me. Beyond any of
your refereeing arguments, or whatever, the difference was that
Leeds came onto that pitch knowing this was a big match. We came on
the pitch as if it was a normal regular season round. That's
The mental preparation was clearly way off. We
just weren't switched on. Making garbage errors both in attack and
defence that pretty much gifted them 16-0 and then 30-12 leads.
Don't get me wrong, that's not to suggest Leeds didn't deserve
what they got. They were excellent all match really. Very clinical
in punishing those errors and Kevin Sinfield's last tackle kicks
were text book throughout the first half.
On the positive side, we scored some fantastic tries in attack
and the fact we still ran this result so close leaves me with
confidence for a Grand Final push because I'm convinced we won't
turn up that slowly again. They will learn from this! Matty Smith
will also hopefully provide that extra pivot that was missing at
times and if we can get both Pat Richards and Tommy Leuluai back on
the paddock and firing also then we should be ok. Time will tell.
Over the whole 80 minutes of this one though, no one can
complain Leeds didn't deserve the win. However, as I often write in
these reports, the first try of the second half is often vital and
even more so in this game. The difference between 36-20 and
possibly 30-26 was huge, and to concede that, to a blatantly clear
knock on, is most galling of all. Had we got back to 30-26 I think
we'd of won, and that's the only resentment I have over this
Leeds got off to blistering start, building up a 16-0 lead in
just 11 minutes. First score was on 4 minutes. Lot of panning of
Sam Tomkins for his defending of a bomb from Sinfield but credit
the kick. I wish we could produce bombs like that! Sam couldn't
take it in and it was a gift score for Ryan Hall in the left
corner. Sinfield converted for 6-0.
You can only condemn Sam though for letting a 40/20 bounce out
when he had an opportunity to pick up the ball. He had nothing to
lose in trying to pick it up, so why didn't he at least try? That
for me summed up our slow mentality at the start of this game.
Leeds got the scrum and scored again with Ben Jones-Bishop over in
the right corner. Sinfield missed the kick, only 10-0.
Then on 11 minutes came a third score. Poor error from Wigan
bringing the ball out of the attack and then Leeds punish quickly
with Zak Hardaker going under the posts before our defence could
recover. Clear forward pass in the build up went missed but I'd
rather take issue with Wigan's error to be honest. Three scores and
all down to our own sloppiness for me. Easy conversion made it
Leeds had another set on our line on 15 minutes but a brilliant
one on one tackle from Darrell Goulding on Jamie Jones-Buchanan
relieved that pressure. At this point, Wigan made changes with Ben
Flower, Liam Farrell and Eric Lauaki coming on to replace Jeff
Lima, Chris Tuson and Lee Mossop, and off the back of that, Wigan
finally got a foothold in the game with two tries in two minutes.
First try was from a scrum move. Mike McIlorum's pass got George
Carmont over, via a missed tackle from Jones-Buchanan. Easy
conversion from Sam Tomkins made it 16-6. Then two minutes later a
brilliant try from Gareth Hock. Lovely passing got Hock away from
60 metres out and he went all the way for the score. I actually
thought he was very greedy in not passing to support but, luckily
for him, full back Hardaker failed to stop him. Sam converted again
However, having got a foothold in the contest, to give that away
again was so poor. Third tackle on the restart, O'Loughlin knocks
on and less than a minute later Leeds score again with Hall
claiming his second. Conversion missed - 20-12.
Are we going to gift Leeds any more easy territory? Yes we are.
29th minute. This again summed Wigan's first half up. McIlorum
picks up the play the ball and throws a pass as if he was
blindfolded. A truly shocking pass to no one that summed up his
performance. Another minute later and Leeds were in for their fifth
score with Ryan Bailey reaching out from close range. Harrison
Hansen and Sam Tomkins were on him but McIlorum was too lazy in
getting involved for me. If he'd of got in there as a third man,
Bailey couldn't of got an arm out to score. Conversion booted for
From the restart, Leeds got their sixth try. This try wasn't so
much from our own gift territory. Rob Burrow darted from dummy half
and his footwork left McIlorum and O'Loughlin on their arses. Wigan
managed to recover but Leeds eventually forced a drop out. From
that a last tackle kick from Sinfield was caught in the right
corner by Jones-Bishop for his second try. Conversion missed, but
it was now 30-12.
Wigan had been blitzed, but somehow we got back to 30-20 before
half time. First a Liam Farrell break was finished off by Ben
Flower who flukely hacked on a shocking pass from Faz. Again I love
the pearl and his breaks but his passing is appalling and he needs
to sharpen that up for the crucial end to the season. Flower did
well to score under the sticks and Sam had an easy conversion for
30-18. Then a penalty goal was added for a penalty after the clock
had expired for 30-20 at half time.
I think every other side in Super League would have been done
and dusted by half time playing like that, but here we were well in
the game and still in contention for Wembley. Like I said though,
the first try after the restart was crucial and it went to Leeds
despite a blatant knock on. Hardaker finished it but McGuire
blatantly knocked on in the build up. The fact he pulled up on the
break told you that. But referee Ben Thaler and touch judges Barry
Chuckle and James Child all sadly missed it. Sinfield converted for
I'm a firm believer though that you earn your luck. We got a
clear forward pass in last year's cup final and Leeds got away with
this one. They earned that I think by just doing the basics far
better than Wigan. They completed sets, didn't concede penalties
and kicked brilliantly on the last. Those three things combined
meant this was a long road back now for Wigan.
To our credit, we never gave up but Leeds by now we're giving
everything to stop us in defence. We did claim two consolation
scored that kept them sweating all the way. First Sean O'Loughlin
completed a nice chip kick from Sam Tomkins on 58 Minutes but the
missed conversion meant the score was only 36-24.
Sinfield cleverly added a drop goal five minutes later to
re-establish a two score lead and by the time Charnley went over on
74 minutes it was too late for Wigan. A late penalty from Sinfield
finished the scoring at Leeds 39 Wigan 28.
So all in all I think we just have to accept that this was Leeds
day, they were deserved winners. Every little bit went for them
but, like I said, I think they earned the luck by doing basics
better than us and being mentally at it from the start. I'm quite
pleased though how we still ran them close whilst scored some
excellent tries. That's because I am convinced we won't turn out
like that again. Remember in 2010 we got knocked out the cup by
Leeds then went on to win the League Leaders Shield and Grand Final
- I'm hoping this is a good omen for a repeat!