Funny game this one. I never felt Wigan ever did enough to win the
match, but yet could have done with a bit of patience at times. On
the flip side they could have lost by a heavier score line in
I keep getting badgered on twitter for peddling this
"young side" thing about Wigan at the moment but the facts are
their to back it up. The average age of the Leeds team was 27.9
whilst the average age of the Wigan team was 23.5. Its a huge
I've had comments in response like "we need to buy an
experienced pack man" and stuff like that, but why panic? This is
not the time of year to panic. I'd be worried if this side was
getting blown off the park, but they've competed really well I
think against experienced packs like Warrington, Huddersfield and
Leeds. Ok maybe at times we struggled to make big yards in this
match, but we completed sets reasonably well and showed a lot of
good patience at times.
Particularly without Sam Tomkins though we did lack a spark and
stats do not lie. Shaun Wane has now lost 8 games as Wigan coach,
and included in that figure is a failure to win any of the five
matches Sam Tomkins has been absent from.
Wane alluded to the fact his late withdrawal with a dead leg
disrupted our preparation for this game. The fact Shaun lost his
father in midweek clearly wouldn't have helped our preparation
either and I offer my condolences to him and his family for that
In Sam's absence, Pat Richards started at Full Back for the
first time since June 2010 and whilst he was solid in that position
defensively, he provides little attacking threat from that
position. We know how lethal he is on the wing, but in 42 starts at
Full Back for Wigan, he's provided just 15 tries. Compared to 126
tries in 143 games out on the left wing for us, it's a hell of a
drop and it wastes his talents.
Don't get me wrong, I think it was the right option to go with a
dependable experienced full back against Kevin Sinfield's kicking
game, but it left us with a Jack Hughes and Iain Thornley
combination on one wing and they at the moment are not going to
make Leeds sweat. In fairness I think those two did OK. Thornley
scored a good try and you couldn't fault them much in defence, but
as an attacking threat they provided little on this occasion to
worry the opponents on a regular basis.
The main issues came on the opposite side in which Ryan Hall
created much of the damage that took Leeds to victory. Some
comments at me worrying about Josh Charnley out there, especially
after a woeful defensive display against Castleford, but Ryan Hall
is such a quality beast I'm prepared to give him the benefit of
doubt for his display in this one.
Overall Waney suggested a few Wigan players had knocks. Pat
didn't goal kick which suggested he wasn't fully fit whilst Darrell
Goulding was back from this mysterious "illness" that the club have
seemingly been very coy in discussing, so who knows if he was fully
ready to return. In summarisation, it wasn't the best night I
suppose for Sam to be missing.
Into the match itself and the deadlock was broken after 9
minutes. Goulding was lethargic in defending the marker position
and Danny McGuire beat him with a dummy, fed Ryan Hall and he did
well to beat Charnley and Pat to finish. Kevin Sinfield converted
Now the minutes following that is were I thought Wigan did
particularly well. Leeds threatened to go on and do more damage to
Wigan and it was already looking, even this early, like any two
score lead would win this match. So I felt we did well to hang in
for a good period and for us to come out of it with a try was a
great bonus. I felt the game turned when the vastly experienced
prop partnership of Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai had been broken
up with Leuluai being interchanged for Richard Moore.
Not long after he had gone, Wigan were level with Ginger Farrell
continuing his excellent season so far with a fourth try in seven
appearances. Classy pass back on the inside from Blake Green to
send him through a gap and Faz easily shrugged off a very poor
tackle attempt by Full Back Kallum Watkins. Questions of a knock on
against Mike McIlorum at the play the ball saw the decision go to
the video referee but his fingers never left the football and "TRY"
was correctly given. Matty Smith was kicking instead of Pat and
made it 6-6 after 17 minutes.
Not much followed immediately after that until Wigan took the
lead with a penalty goal on 29 minutes from Smith. In the ten
minutes before half time, Wigan had a chance with a drop out that
came to nothing, whilst Leeds went close with Hall but Chris Tuson
and Charnley did well to hold him up.
Into the second half and Leeds regained the lead after 4
minutes. Sinfield put a bomb up towards Ryan Hall and he forced
Charnley into an error, which saw Joel Moon pounce on the loose
ball for the try. Sinfield converted for 12-8.
Again, I think Wigan did well to hang in the match for a while
following that. It still felt like a two score lead for anyone
would always be enough, so it was important for us to let the game
It was the next facet of play that will leave Wigan with regrets
on the night. 55th Minute and Wigan had just stopped a huge Leeds
break down the left with Charnley doing well to scramble back in
defence to deny Rob Burrow. The home side were feeling sorry for
themselves and Wigan caught them cold with a counter attack down
the right hand side. Thornley got away from 80 metres out and had
support from who else but Farrell. Watkins managed to tackle him 10
metres short and a quick play the ball would surely had seen Wigan
score with defence scrambling, but Farrell knocked on! Arguably
Watkins knocked the ball out but for me Farrell needs to learn from
Within a minute, Wigan had conceded a penalty and Jamie
Jones-Buchanan had scored under the posts with Mike McIlorum and
Blake Green guilty of poor defence up the middle. Sinfield
converted for 18-8 when it could so easily had been 14-12 to us.
That two score lead did very well prove enough but Wigan at
least made them sweat for the full 80. Peacock being penalised for
incorrect play the ball after the restart helped, but Wigan were
clinical in punishing and Farrell sent Thornley over in the right
corner. Excellent touchline conversion from Smith made it 18-14.
But despite 17 minutes still remaining, the game just seemed to
die away for me. Wigan never gave themselves the opportunity to put
sustained pressure on the Leeds line and at times their own lack of
composure contributed to that. That's were the lack of experience
shows for us, it was same at Huddersfield.
Our best chance actually came with 30 seconds to go. Bomb went
up from Smith towards Charnley on the wing but despite him winning
the leap, he couldn't take the ball cleanly and although Tuson
touched down for what could have been a match winning try in
consecutive away games, it was a clear knock on.
So Leeds win 18-14 but I'm not too disheartened for Wigan. We
will need to improve whilst this season wears on to have any chance
of trophy success, that is for sure, but like I said at the start
of this report, March is not the time to panic. That said, Easter
could be quite a telling period for our side, so let's see how we
fair in the next four matches.