Pat Richards claiming his 150th Wigan try on the night of his 200th
Wigan appearance was almost as inevitable as the sun rising, but
Wigan's young side nilling Catalan was not so inevitable.
hadn't seen the match it would be easy to look at that final score
and just conclude that Catalan were really poor but the reality was
more that Wigan made them look poor. We ground them down into a
performance that saw them looking more and more clueless as the
night wore on.
I mean the first twenty minutes was a really good contest and
had Catalan scored the games first try, it would have been a
totally different result. I reckon both sides had three good
chances each in the opening quarter but it was a bit of luck that
eventually got the scoreboard ticking.
A grubber by Sam Tomkins forty metres out ricocheted off a
Catalan defender straight into the hands of Mike McIlorum who had
support from Matty Smith to get Blake Green over. Pat converted for
6-0 after 21 minutes.
It was when Catalan started making interchanges that Wigan took
full control of the contest. Wigan's standard of play never dropped
in comparison and they finished the half strongly with two back to
back tries just before half time.
First effort came after a drop out with last week's match
winning partnership of Sean O'Loughlin and Chris Tuson combining
again in the middle of the park to get the latter over. Nicely
timed run by Tuson again and Pat converted easily for 12-0.
Then a mistake off a kick gifted Wigan's third score.
O'Loughlin's chip over the top turned grubber was completely missed
by full back Daryl Millard, but Lockers did brilliantly to get the
pass away whilst flat on his back and Jack Hughes had a simple walk
over the line under the posts. Easy conversion for 18-0.
First try of the second half is always a big one and it fell to
Wigan after just 3 minutes whilst Catalan were on the attack. Close
to the Wigan line Millard's pass was intercepted by Richards and he
raced 95 metres down his left wing to score his 150th try. What a
brilliant way to achieve that landmark and it brought the house
down. Even more so when he nailed his conversion off the touchline
This young Wigan side, missing its three most experienced props
(Paul Prescott, Eric Lauaki, Lee Mossop) and most experienced
second rower (Harrison Hansen), visibly grew from that effort and
Wigan showed some great class over the next few minutes.
Two quick back to back tries on 49 and 52 minutes put the result
beyond full doubt. First Sam Tomkins scored in the right corner
after combination from half backs Green and Smith, then Pat took a
perfect kick from Green down the left to claim his second. He
missed both conversions though, leaving the score at 32-0.
I think what showed that this wasn't exactly a Catalan surrender
was the way they didn't collapse in the final 28 minutes. They had
no idea by now in attack, particularly without talisman Scott
Dereau, but defensively as a line they weren't that poor. Only one
further try followed for Wigan and that came after Catalan had been
reduced to 12 men with a sin bin.
The yellow came in the 71st Minute following an incident that
saw Sam Tomkins knocked out. Couldn't quite tell if it was a
shoulder charge on him or even a punch but I'm sure the
disciplinary will look at that one. Olivier Elima was yellow carded
following the incident but it seems that was for Dissent rather
than the challenge itself. Sam was substituted but will be OK.
The French had a really good defensive stand following that,
despite being a man down, but Wigan's pressure eventually told with
Greg Burke claiming his first try for the club with 3 minutes to
go. We had got a "back to one" down the left wing and with this new
"free play" rule, Burke got up and had a go. I made the point on
twitter that Burke was aged just 1 when Steve Menzies played 5
minutes as a substitute for Australia at Central Park in October
1994, but Burke did brilliantly to throw off Menzies attempted
tackle and although he fell just short of the line, he was able to
double move over it with no one on him. Pat converted off the
touchline to finish his big night in perfect style and round off an
excellent 38-0 win.
I've just said earlier on twitter that no other side in Super
League could lose their equivalents of the experience we have out
and produce the standard of performance we are achieving. I don't
think Warrington would fancy a trip to Leeds without Morley,
Carvell, Wood and Westwood, Huddersfield without Crabtree, Fielden,
Chan, Ferres or St Helens without Perry, McCarthy-Scarsbrook,
Laffranchi and Soliola. Yet we'll go there next Friday with great
confidence and enthusiasm and that speaks volumes for our coaching
staff both at this level and in the academy ranks!