I've no doubt all the pundits will be focusing on Wigan getting
away with this one, after losing a 22-4 lead during that second
half, but it showed great character from our boys to still win that
Over the whole 80 minutes I think that end result
was actually a fair reflection. It was a weird comeback because it
didn't feel like we collapsed at all. We always looked like we
could get the one score that would kill the game but it's clear to
me that we are losing out for lack of experience rather than
I actually thought Castleford were excellent for the majority of
the contest and rather than focusing on our apparent collapse, we
should look at a major positive that we managed to build up a 22-4
The simple nutshell was they killed us down our right side
defence. Jake Webster and Justin Carney gave Jack Hughes and Josh
Charnley a torrid time. Hughes in particular got a big lesson and
that boils down to his inexperience as a centre. Iain Thornley on
the opposite side has been guilty also during the campaign so far
and its something we have to accept this early in the season. Let's
credit those two for Cas though. Big blokes and I felt they were
I think we also lost out again when Sam Powell came on at
hooker. I mentioned it in my Huddersfield report and it was same
here. He came on after 51 minutes and that's where the Cas comeback
started. The harsh thing for Powell is that I don't think it's
necessarily him doing wrong but when I've seen McIlorum spelled
this season, I've really begun to appreciate how well he controls
the ruck in defence.
Overall I'm really enjoying what Wigan are doing this year.
Despite absences I think we are doing fine up front in the pack and
we are getting a lot of buzz from Blake Green and Matty
Smith. The timing and reading of each others games is not
there yet but again with new centre options, a new half back combo and an
inexperienced pack we had to accept that it's going to take time.
Considering all that I think we should be very happy with 7
points out of 10. Forget the circumstances of that comeback and
focus on what a good win it was, and I say that because I credit
Castleford for their performance. They were not as poor as 16-0 to
us said at one point.
That 16-0 lead was built up with hard defence and clinical
attacking play, especially considering we had just one penalty
during the whole of the first half. First score was after 10
minutes with Ben Flower powering over from a Blake Green pass, a
try similar to the one he claimed on TV against Warrington. Pat had
an easy conversion for 6-0.
Castleford had their own
opportunities early on but our defence was strong quite often
during the first half. You could see the signs of what was to come
down our right side though. They made a couple of clean breaks down
that wing, but during this period we were scrambling back well.
Whilst also being clinical in attack. Second try came on 25 minutes
and it was simple hands between Smith, Green and Thornley that sent
Pat over for the 149th time in his Wigan career. The stage is now
set for a big night for Pat on Friday. It'll be his 200th Wigan
appearance in which his 150th Wigan try is up for grabs and I think
two tries will see him become our all time top try scorer in Super
League matches, overtaking legend Kris Radlinski. It might be a bit
daft with the French being in town but we should make Friday Night
Irish Night in his honour! He also converted for 12-0.
minutes later and it was 16-0. Credit Charnley for this one. He
leaped in the air to take Green's kick and had quickness of mind to
offload and send Tuson over. Pat missed the conversion though.
Then just before half time came a response from Cas and it was down
their left and our right that I've mentioned many times already.
Carney made the half break but it was Webster who powered over in
the left corner and it was no more than they had deserved. Nil
would have been a bit of an injustice to them, but nethertheless it
was disappointing to lose the nil before the break. Jamie Ellis'
extras went wide however so it was 16-4.
We were all saying at
half time, "get the first try, kill the game!" Well we got the
first try at least. This was a soft try to be fair with McIlorum
just scooting out of dummy half from close range. Pat converted for
For the rest of the game it was always one more Wigan try
would kill it. But it didn't come until Cas had fought back. One
thing that does stick in my mind was a chance of an easy two
pointer, which I think we should of took. Easy in hindsight I know
but considering the inexperience in some areas of our team, I think
we shouldn't waste them. When you have a second half lead by a
multiple of six it makes sense to add an extra two. To be fair, if
we had we scored a try we probably would have pushed on to win very
easily but you could argue we'd have done that with the extra two
points also. We'll never know but had we lost today, it would have
been a big talking point amongst fans.
I've already mentioned
Powell came on for McIlorum and Cas fought back with tries from
Ellis and Carney (2). It was all down that one side of the field
and with Ellis converting all three efforts, it was 22 all with 8
minutes to go.
It was all looking against Wigan. That third try had come off
the back of a 40/20 kick and everything was going right for the
home side. But god was on our side today perhaps after a drop goal
attempt from Rangi Chase rebounded in our favour off the post
rather than the other way round we got off Lee Briers against
Warrington. The kick actually rebounded into Castleford hands but
it turned out that player was offside.
What Wigan did next won
the game. Bang! That penalty was taken so quickly (am told it was
that the Cas players never really got their heads round the fact
the ball was now 40 metres from their own line. You blinked and it
was in touch. Their wasn't a thought of "we'll slow this down"
having lost a 22-4 lead, we were still switched on with a "we can
still win this" mentality. Great to see!
Particularly when it
resulted in the winning try. We did get a back to one when a Smith
drop goal attempt was charged down but captain Sean O'Loughlin's
spin, turn and shuffle pass was perfect for Tuson's run under the
posts. Easy kick for 28-22. Again I'll stress that whilst people
will remember the try being scored, the fact we punted that penalty
down field so quickly was pivotal to it. It didn't give Cas a
second to think and the pressure told!
Their was still a a minute
or so to play out but Castleford's attack down the left mentality
was now all too obvious and Wigan muscled up in that area. A
penalty after the hooter gave them a last bomb and hope but Sam
defended it and the match was over.
I just hope that we get more
games like today in the regular season. It was a credit to both sides. Tough turnaround to play Catalan on Friday but I'm really
looking forward to see how we get on. Dom Crosby took a head knock
apparently during this game (I never saw it), and it doubtful for
Friday. Not what we need in the pack but one's misfortune is