Well I said last week on the radio that we still have points to
prove against the big sides and I'm torn whether we proved anything
with this performance.
Yes we got the win and that's the
important factor. Mainly because it puts us eight points ahead of
opponents Leeds and probably ensures, despite their two games in
hand, they have no chance of catching us in the league table.
But for me we kind of fell over the line rather than grasp this
match by the scruff of the neck. My main conclusion is that
defensively we were fine but we still need more in attack up the
middle of the park, especially on the last tackle. We produced some
good kicks first half but after the break we were pressured out of
I guess its what Wigan learn from this match going forward that
will count. Another big test isn't far away in terms of Warrington,
so let's see what happens then.
Shaun Wane welcomed back Matty Smith for this game in place of
George Williams whilst Darrell Goulding's return at right centre
meant Jack Hughes failed to make the 17 for the first time this
season. Sam Powell continued at Stand Off in Blake Green's absence.
Wigan started the better side, emphasised by two back to back
drop outs being forced in the opening seven minutes. This pressure
told with a lovely offload by Iain Thornley getting Sam Tomkins
over for his 30th try of the season. It took Sam 25 matches (late
July) to reach 30 tries last season, this year he's achieved that
in just 16 games! Pat converted for 6-0.
Leeds fought back well. On 13 minutes they kicked a penalty goal
with Mike McIlorum being penalised for a hit on Kevin Sinfield. "It
wasn't late" he was told by referee Richard Silverwood but for me
the decision to penalise shows all that is wrong and daft with this
shoulder charge ban. Players trying to do an honest bit of graft
don't have a clue what's fair and what's not anymore. The game has
gone soft! Another step towards not being able to tackle like
football at this rate. Now if he'd made contact with the head fair
enough, but otherwise it should be fair game!
That penalty goal made it 6-2, then Leeds took the lead with a
try from Sinfield. Lovely try this one. Zak Hardaker with the half
break and a great spot to find his captain in support. Conversion
put them ahead.
Wigan were gifted a route back into the game with a cheap knock
on by Ryan Bailey on the restart. Punishment came with Sam sending
Richards over in the left corner. A huge overlap for that one and
he nailed a touchline conversion for 12-8. Five minutes later a
penalty goal was added to make it 14-8.
Leeds though came back again with a quality finish from Kallum
Watkins in the right corner. But Sinfield missed the extras - Wigan
lead held at 14-12.
Then came another penalty goal for Wigan. They had forced
another drop out and Bailey decided to hit Logan Tomkins with a
cheap shove in the back. Pathetic. 16-12 Wigan.
The game looked to be heading to half time with a narrow lead
for Wigan but right on the hooter, Sinfield tried a glory kick that
back fired miserably. It went straight into Darrell Goulding's
hands and he sent Charnley over with too much pace for the chasers.
Pat missed the extras but the extra four points to give us a two
score lead proved crucial in the end.
Into the second half and although Sam Powell had a try
disallowed early, we never really had many clinical opportunities
to score further points. I still think we fall backwards when Mike
McIlorum gets interchanged. I think it's been proved way more than
once this year when he's left the field in tight games that our
performance level falls away when he's absent. I'd leave him out
their for full 80 minutes if it was up to me.
It was Leeds who got the only try of the second half through Joe
Vickery, to which the conversion was missed, and in the end the
score of 20-16 was held until full time, despite 29 minutes
Wigan had one penalty shot to seal the game but never really
looked like claiming a try that was always likely to seal the
match. It is this factor that disappointments me about this
performance. Credit Leeds defence but our efforts just fell away on
the last tackle for me.
It was Leeds who found the one clean break that perhaps
should of sealed a win, or at least a draw, for them with Danny
McGuire finishing off a lovely break down the left but it was
brought back after he had crossed behind his own player who was in
our defensive line. This was with only six minutes left to play and
the decsion gave wigan a penalty on half way. We decided to go for
goal despite Pat Richards being told to go off for treatment with a
nasty cut on his cheek. So Sam had to kick for goal and although he
had plenty distance, the kick just went wide left.
In the end the clock just ran out and Wigan had clinched the win
that was their 11th in a row. Like I said it was a good result
rather than a performance and I hope it will be one we can learn
from going forward. I look forward to the Warrington away trip for
another test of our character, but we have Wakefield and Widnes to
deal with first!