Classy performance this from Wigan, who warmed up perfectly ahead
of Friday's Easter derby with St Helens. And warming up was
required on a freezing cold night, following the snow that had hit
the North West in the 48 hours up to kick off.
An official crowd
figure of 11,904 was announced, but as is standard by the club,
they announce a figure of tickets sold rather than attendees and I
was told the crowd was nearer 7,000 on the night with many season
ticket holders choosing to stay at home and watch the game on Sky
Sports. You could hardly blame them! That wind was awfully cold and
some at the front of each stand had to endure snow falling on them.
You couldn't argue with what Wigan produced on the field. A
thoroughly emphatic display of quality action. I did wonder whether
this young side would be slightly distracted with one eye on what's
to come, but their was none of that.
Widnes coach Denis Betts made a naive mistake midweek if
offering extra motivation to Wigan. Our coach Shaun Wane commented
post match that Betts comments saying we were "scared" laid down
the challenge to our side and made the preparation for this game
easy. One thing you can't afford to give a Waney coach side is
extra motivation because I reckon he could motivate a cripple to
walk if he tried it!
Wigan had a further injury to contend with following the loss to
Leeds last week, but no one came in to replace "Henderson" Gil
Dudson in the pack. Jack Hughes simply reverted from centre to the
second row via the bench with Sam Tomkins returning at Full Back.
Widnes actually made a decent start. I reckon they had watched
the video of our away match at Castleford in which The Tigers had
massacred our right side defence, but we have improved strongly in
that area since then. That seemed to be their only tactic to be
honest and once that had failed, they looked clueless for the rest
of the game.
Sadly it was our right side attack they needed to concentrate on
because they were hammered down that wing, defended by Patrick Ah
Van and Willie Isa. Josh Charnley in particular had a field day
during the first half, scoring four tries and playing a part in two
He was provider for the first after 7 minutes. Darrell
Goulding's pass got him away from 50 metres out and he just had to
draw in the support to get Sam Tomkins over. Conversion for Pat
Richards made it 6-0.
Then Charnley claimed three tries in eleven minutes to complete
a 22 minute hat-trick. First of those saw Blake Green break through
an awful tackle attempt from opposite number Lloyd White. He then
hit Charnley with a lovely pass that had the hint of forward to be
fair. Pat made it 12-0.
Second try came from a penalty moments later. Good hands this
time saw Green, O'Loughlin, Sam and Goulding all combine before
Josh finished well in the corner. Touchline conversion made it
Then the hat-trick try saw Matty Smith break through a missed
tackle by ex Warrior Eamon O'Carroll. Having run 40 metres, he had
three defenders closing him down but he put in a lovely grubber
that bounced nicely for Josh to get over. Easy conversion made it
Widnes were unlucky not to get on the scoreboard next with Ah
Van going close in the corner but Josh managed to tackle his foot
onto the touchline, a bugs dick before it was grounded.
Fifth try soon came for Wigan and this was an individual one
from Sam. To be honest I thought it was a bit greedy because we had
a huge four man over lap to his right but he scored himself anyway,
collecting his own grubber to beat two men to the try. Easy
conversion again for 30-0 after half an hour.
Wigan still had time to get two more tries before half time,
again doing damage down the right hand side. Goulding got Josh away
and he shrugged off Ah Van in the tackle. Full Back Rhys Hanbury
was back to stop him this time, but Chris Tuson was in support and
Josh got a great offload away. Pat missed his first kick of the
night though - 34-0.
Seventh try came soon after. This time a bomb by Smith was
allowed to bounce and it fell into the hands of Scott Taylor, who
had his best game of his Wigan career so far. Widnes players just
stood off him and he raced towards the line and offloaded perfectly
to send Josh in for his fourth. Second missed kick of the day left
the score at 38-0, and that was carried to half time.
Other notes late in the first half were the withdrawal of Mike
McIlorum and Sean O'Loughlin around the 30 minute mark. Neither
returned with Sky reporting our captain had a rib injury and it's
been suggested McIlorum has a shoulder knock. Post match report
suggests both will be fine for Saints though, but the way these
youngsters are stepping up we perhaps needn't worry!
We didn't need either anyway. This game was won and I know some
might point to the fact Wigan had a quiet last 30 minutes, but I
think they played it well. It would have been absolutely pointless
to keep bursting up the energy levels knowing Easter is around the
corner. As soon as Liam Farrell claimed his fifth try of the season
just 105 seconds into the second half.....well I wouldn't say we
shut up shop but we dropped the pace a little, for good reason with
what's to come.
This try was actually down the left. Pat and Iain Thornley could
have had deckchairs over there in the first half, but here the
latter was involved with the break and Farrell was, as ever, in
good support to score. Pat converted for 44-0.
Think it's also worth noting that Widnes' right side defence had
improved also. Much as the scoreline was poor for them,
statistically they did ok. This was a performance that harked back
to them being a joke 12 months ago, but they improved late last
season and have carried that into this season with some good
performances. They've all been at Stobart Stadium though, so the
next step for them is to become more competitive in away games. If
they can find that later this season, and remain competitive at
home, then they could well be a dark horse for the top 8, who
They had a decent spell on the Wigan line for a few minutes
following Gingers try, but Wigan came out of that with a 40/20 from
Smith. From that kick, Wigan got their ninth try. Down the left, Smith,
Green and Sam all combined before Pat used his strength to fend
with one hand and touch down with the other in the corner. Nailed
his conversion as well to make it 50-0 after 54 minutes.
It was the 70th Minute before the next try came. Wigan were
trapped on half way as "last" was signalled by referee Tim Roby,
but we went for the powerplay. Goulding made the burst down the
right and although his pass was suspect, it was collected by Jack
Hughes who swung towards the left. Via Sam, the pass went out and
Thornley had a stroll over. Conversion made it 56-0.
Widnes at least got a consolation with an unconverted Lloyd
White try, but Sam Tomkins completed his hat-trick late on to
complete a classy win.