Well over a month has past since I last got to write a match
preview. If you wasn't aware, my laptop broke and was away for
repair for the best part of a month, so I couldn't really do
anything. But to be honest, even though my laptop is back, it is for me to decide in the coming
weeks whether I want to continue to do all this next season.|
I've done this for 11 seasons now. I started it as a 19 year old
and I'm coming up to hitting 30 soon. A lot of history has passed
under the bridge during all that time, but their has been little
financial reward for doing all this and I'm the kind of person
that wouldn't want to do anything half-hearted. So whilst not
saying this season will be it, I've certainly got a lot of
thinking to do over the next few weeks. The off season often
refreshes the energy, so only time will tell.
Since I last wrote, which was a previewing for the Hull FC
match in early August, Wigan have lost to both Warrington and St
Helens and have left big question marks over whether we can
convert our 1st place into a grand final triumph.
First thing I'd like to say is that I think the regular season
has been truly dire. Wigan last week lifted what I am now calling
the "pre season shield" but, although we fully deserved it, it's
been quite a boring thing to achieve.
In terms of memorable matches during this regular
season.......I'm struggling. Yes beating Saints 42-16 at
Manchester City and Leeds 50-8 away were happy nights, but they
were walk overs. Personally I don't take long term pleasure in uncompetitive walk over
wins and sadly their are far, far, far, far, far too many of these
game at the moment.
Take Huddersfield for example. They've been garbage since May,
yet are one of the contenders for the title. It's a joke. Prior to
beating Leeds last week, they'd won 3 of 14 in Super League I
think I worked out. That should not be a play off contender.
As for the play offs. Well I think the top 8 system
is universally condemned but it is what it is. Whilst Wigan
finished 1st, I think Warrington have to start favourites for the
fact they beat us both home and away this regular season.
Wigan's hopes hinge on this one game for me. If we fail again at
home to Catalan then for me we are a busted flush. We need to
learn from the fact that we've lost at this stage on both
occasions in the last two years at home. A low crowd and zero away
fans will not help the atmosphere, so it is going to be a tough
night. It's a big one for Catalan as well. Win this and they get a
week off before a home semi final. That'd be huge for them. So
although both have a second chance, I think Grand Final chances
for both Wigan and Catalan come down to this one game!
play St Helens and, to be honest, I
saw little last week to suggest Saints will be a big threat. Ok,
they beat us but they really struggled against our 12 men and the
tries they claimed were hardly ones that showed a ton of class. Saints might upset the apple cart once but I'm
unconvinced they could do it the two or three times required to win
a Grand Final.
Leeds, I don't think they will repeat the
5th place success of last year. Last season they got lucky in that
in week 2 they travelled to Huddersfield, who were out of
form and had been beaten 47-0 at Warrington the week before. That
match offered them a game against a team that had no real big game
calibre and it was quite a fortunate draw I think for them,
considering the league position they had achieved. It was a sad
reality of the play off system that 5th place, perhaps by luck
than judgement, has rewarded them with quite a comfortable passage
to the semi final stage.
This year though the Rhinos are guaranteed, if they
get past Wakefield, to have to travel to either Warrington, St
Helens or to France to play Catalan in Week 2. All three of those
options are a totally different kettle of fish compared to a trip to
Huddersfield. They are bound to provide a more physically and mentally
challenging test. Then that's before an away semi final.
Also teams will be wary and ready for them after what they did
last year, so I can't see it happening again. To be honest, I
would not be surprised if Wakefield upset them on Friday. I
wouldn't predict it, I expect a comfortable Leeds win, but I
wouldn't be surprised at all.
The last match sees Hull
take on Huddersfield. I expect a comfortable Hull win because they
are strong at KC Stadium and the visitors have been poor for ages.
Wouldn't expect Hull to do too much beyond that because away from
home they struggle.
Back to our match and I don't really know what to
expect. I do think the suspension of Mike McIlorum is a blessing
because I feel he has been poor for weeks. A stupid red card v
Bradford, struggled against Warrington, was conceding penalties
for fun at Hull KR and last week spoke for itself. Not good enough
in my view his performances recently. I'm far happier with Tommy
at seven and Matty Smith at nine, or vice versa.
It's all about Wigan's attitude though. We need to
click now. No more of this plodding around we've seen for weeks.
Now is the time to step up and be counted. Do it and the season is
alive. Lose it, well we will have a second chance but the season's
hopes will be extinguished for me. Let's see what occurs!