14 minutes! That's how long it took for Wigan to win this cup tie.
A spell of that many minutes either side of half time, saw us rack
up 28 points to blow the home side away.
You could never have envisaged that coming in the first 35
minutes though. Rovers tactically tried to rough Wigan up and in
some respects it worked, in the sense it helped them compete.
However, whilst it might have sounded like Wigan were
struggling, they were actually rising to the challenge in the pack
with sterling efforts from Ben Flower, Dom Crosby, Eric Lauaki and
Harrison Hansen in particular.
What stopped Wigan from pushing forward for long periods early
on was the loss of Blake Green following a shocking hit by Rovers
Corey Paterson. It was a very late and high! The fact he's been
given a "Grade D" (possible 3-5 match) sentencing speaks volumes
for how bad it was. Fair to say Waney wasn't best pleased. He was
sat in front of the position I was doing the Wish FM commentary
from and he went batshit crazy to say the least!
That incident happened in the 10th minute after Wigan had
already fallen behind to an early try from David Hodgson, touching
down a Michael Dobson kick in only the 2nd minute. Good reward for
Rovers who had won a short kick off to put Wigan under pressure
right from the off.
Conversion was missed by Dobson meaning Rovers had just a 4-0
lead when Green left the field with not only concussion but he had
also turned his ankle at the same time.
Having already lost Matty Smith to injury the week before, this
left his young replacement Sam Powell now teaming up with Sean
O'Loughlin in the half back role and I think it's fair to say this
didn't really work. More so on the part of O'Loughlin if I'm
brutally honest. Rovers simply shut him down completely. Tough
situation for Powell to lose his experienced partner but he did ok
overall in this match. He should learn a lot from this match.
What Wigan did superbly in this period of the game was hang in.
By that I don't mean we were on the back foot or anything but
mentally we didn't buckle. This was a real test of character and we
stood up to it well. Hope we can carry that forward to the big
games at the back end of the season.
From Rovers point of view they really needed more than 4-0 in
reward for their efforts. They had half chances but Wigan's defence
was very strong.
Then came some good coaching from Wane. He recognised O'Loughlin
in the halves wasn't working, so he switched Sam Tomkins to scrum
half and it pretty quickly paid dividends. He scored a hat-trick
within 8 minutes of game time and the tie was turned completely on
First of those came on 35 minutes with a lovely step helping him
leave Rhys Lovegrove flat footed to score under the posts. Then
just before half time he put in a little grubber that was not dealt
with by Greg Eden and he was left with a simple plonk down. Two Pat
conversions made it 12-4 at half time.
Then his hat-trick try came on 43 minutes. Lovely pass from
Hansen got Richards, who had switched to full back, away up the
middle of the park and Sam was in support to finish. Another
conversion made it 18-4 and you could literally see Rovers spirits
withering away in front of you.
Especially when Wigan backed up with two more tries. Sam again
with a lovely grubber to allow Pat to score close to the posts,
then Darrell Goulding put in a neat kick for Josh Charnley to
finish off out wide on the right. Pat missed his first kick for
that last try, but at 28-4 the game looked won, even though 30
Another score came on 54 minutes with Sam sending Iain Thornley
racing down the left wing. Hhe ran 70 metres to complete the score
despite Omari Caro chasing him for much of the way. Great effort
that one for 34-6.
Rovers did respond with a try from Craig Hall ten minutes later
but Wigan quickly hit back with Sam sending Liam Farrell over for
his 12th try of the campaign. Conversion made it 40-10.
By now Sam had reverted to full back again, with the game won,
and he managed to get over for a fourth try following a nice kick
from O'Loughlin into space for him to chase. Nice vision from
Lockers I felt. Easy conversion for 46-10.
Rovers had the last try when Hall claimed a second following a
charge down of a Sam Powell kick, but after a rough house start,
Wigan had come through this tie well and can now switch off from
the cup with the next round not being for two months!