Wigan's record against Warrington at DW Stadium in recent years
should be the only motivation Shaun Wane's side require ahead of
Friday's home opener.
Warrington have gone away from Wigan with the spoils in each of
the last three seasons, whilst both home and away they have won 5
of the 7 contests since Michael Maguire became coach in 2010. But
what was the significance of the two Wigan victories?
Well, the first of the two Wigan wins came very early on in
Madge's reign here and during that match Lee Briers limped off in
the 50th Minute. At the time they were in total control of contest
with a 16-4 lead, and they were actually a knock on by Briers away
from going 22-4 up. But after he limped off they totally collapsed
and we came back to
win 22-20 in a thrilling finish.
I'm absolutely convinced that had Briers not departed, we'd have
lost that game convincingly.
The other win we claimed was that
great cup quarter final effort in
2011, and that man Briers didn't play at all that day. Again I
think this was significant to Warrington's demise. He may turn 35
in June but he is still the man to stop!
I don't think it was a coincidence on either occasion that
Briers absence led to our victories because he kicks us to death
every single time he plays us. Warrington are by no means a one
man team but they do not have anywhere near the same threat
I think this was partly proven against Castleford in
their season opener last week. Briers played the first half and
Warrington ripped up with a 28-0 lead in just 23 minutes. Second
half they went with Richie Myler and Stefan Ratchford in the
halves, with Briers subbed and rested, and it sounded very scrappy
all of a sudden with only a 40-24 end result.
The point is that if Wigan want to win on Friday they
need to control Briers far more effectively than we've done in
recent seasons. We need to learn also from the contest against
them here early last season, a contest I think we dominated in the
pack but somehow lost.
Twice in that match Warrington scored a try 1 minute
and 10 seconds after we had kicked penalty goals. You know what
happens after a penalty goal, you get the ball back and your
supposed to control the possession. But Wigan coughing up twice in
those situations let Warrington claim 12 of the 22 points they got
on the night. GIFTS! Absolute Gifts! We cannot afford to do that!
Let's hope we've learned the lesson. Warrington are going to
target the ball after we've scored, so get it up the jumper and
make sure we complete after we have scored!
Overall though this is a massive test of character
for our boys. I wouldn't be surprised if we turned them over. I
think we'll be up for this more than they will, because we owe
them one. Last week at Salford we looked like a side preparing for
this match to come with a hard working defensive mentality in
clear abundance. Some are saying that this game doesn't really
mean much in the long run, but I disagree. That win I mentioned
away at Warrington in early 2010, that ended a long winless run at
Halliwell Jones Stadium, was massive in the end goal of Super
League Grand Final success. I think ending our recent home hoo-doo
could go along away towards doing the same. It won't mean much to
Warrington but it'll be huge for us.
Don't get me wrong I still have fears for our squad
depth long term. I think we really struggled in the pack in the
friendly against them two weeks ago, but victories in matches like
this will help this squad of lads grow. I look forward with
interest to see how they get on!