Summer rugby had finally arrived and the attendees of this one got
a cracking game to match the weather. Wigan were made to sweat all
the way though for a hard earned two points.
Clearly we were way
off our best here but we managed to pick up another two points and
that really pleases me.
Following the Leeds victory, coach Wane made three changes with
Greg Burke and Scott Taylor returning for their first games in a
month whilst Rhodri Lloyd made his first appearance since the home
loss to Bradford last June. Sean O'Loughlin, Dom Crosby and Eric
Lauaki dropped out.
Wakefield meanwhile had terrible injuries to deal with. Paul
Sykes, Tim Smith, Paul Aiton, Andy Raleigh and Ali Lauitiiti were
all absent, so it was very admirable that they competed despite
Especially after Wigan had raced into a ten nil lead after just
15 minutes. Both tries pretty identical with Darrell Goulding
providing the final pass to get Josh Charnley over on each
occasion. Pat Richards converted the first of those two for a 10-0
Think everyone watching expected Wigan to kick on at this point
and rack up a huge score again but the exact opposite happened.
Wakefield dominated the twenty minutes up to half time.
I was expecting Wigan to take big control during the interchange
period of the game but they were quite sloppy in truth with some
poor errors. Sam Tomkins failing to deal with a kick in defence was
a big part in the turnaround.
Quick back to back tries from Dean Collis and Danny Kirmond put
Wakefield ahead at 12-10 with Lee Smith converting both tries. Iain
Thornley was in trouble in defence again and just like at Hull a
few weeks ago, Waney showed no mercy in substituting him with
Rhodri Lloyd going in at centre. Thornley did not return.
Ok, this score wasn't really panic worthy but you got the sense
that Wigan needed half time to sort themselves out because in
period of the game it just wasn't happening.
Wakefield then extended their lead with a try on 38 minutes from
Kyle Wood. Lovely finish from 40 metres but Harrison Hansen made a
shocking missed tackle. Conversion was missed for this one but
right on the half time hooter, Lee Smith added a drop goal to make
it 17-10 at the break.
The home side went off with a big spring in their step but I
couldn't help laughing at Shaun Wane walking across the pitch to
the dressing room at half time. He is like a bulldog isn't he and
he was clearly ready for bursting into a big half time rant.
That rant worked because Wigan immediately came out second half
and scored through Hansen. I said he put in a poor missed tackle
but he was superb after the break. For me if any guy was trying to
lift Wigan out of their slump, it was him. Pat converted for 17-16.
Again your now thinking that Wigan would just kick on here but
Wakefield did well to hang in at this point and eventually
responded with another try. Kirmond claimed his second but Liam
Farrell and Sam Powell were guilty of leaving him to each other.
They were both left flat footed as he burst between the pair of
them. Lee Smith had now limped off injured for the Wildcats so Ben
Cockayne converted for 23-16.
The way the game was now, had Wakefield scored again they would
of won this game for me. Wigan though slowly began to get a grip
and get on top in the pack. We also had both Mike McIlorum and
Logan Tomkins on the field at this point. I'm not quite sure how we
dealt with two hookers positionally but it was an interesting
On the hour mark, Charnley managed to squeeze over in the corner
for his hat-trick and with a big conversion from Pat, we were now
back down to a 23-22 deficit.
The match was still anyone's to win but a 40/20 kick from Matty
Smith on 63 minutes turned this game our way I felt. We didn't
score from it but it managed to pen Wakefield back in their half
and Wigan had by now stopped making silly errors and conceding
On 70 minutes came the game breaking moment. Amazingly similar
try to Chris Tuson's match winner at Castleford earlier in the
season. This time McIlorum found a long pass to get Lee Mossop over
under the sticks.
With Pat converting, Wigan had only a 5 point lead at 28-23 but
I always felt the game was won from that point. We just needed to
retain possession and play for territory and that's exactly what we
did. Complete our sets and Smith was producing good kicks on the
Wigan then got a kickable penalty on 76 minutes that was an
obvious "take the two" opportunity to put us 7 points ahead. Pat
despatch it and then converted as Goulding claimed his second try
of the season two minutes later. Well deserved. He was excellent in
this game and ironically his other try this year was against
That left the final score at 36-23 which definitely flattered
Wigan, but when you think deep about it, their were a lot of young
players on the field for us late in that game. Sam Powell, Rhodri
Lloyd, Logan Tomkins, Greg Burke and Scott Taylor for example. I
think its pleasing that they came through this unexpected tough
test. I'm really pleased that Smith's kicking game was a big part
also. I've said before that I felt the kicking game contributed to
our downfall in the big games late last season and I hope Smith can
perform like he did late in this game when it matters later in the
year. We shall see.
So in the end Wigan were forced to work really hard for the win
but thats what they did. I remember a tweet during the Wish FM
commentary I was summarising that mentioned us being "lucky". I
wouldn't say this was a lucky win to be honest. We grafted our way
to it in the end. Credit Wakefield though. They were excellent and
nice to see an excellent crowd turn out, despite their humbling by
neighbours Castleford last weekend.
Widnes next for Wigan and we just need to claim another two
points before we go into the 17 day break for England v Exiles. If
we do that and Huddersfield are still only three points behind us
then that will be to their tremendous credit. But playing St Helens
on Monday followed by a quick turnaround trip to Hull KR on Friday
will be a big test of their credentials. Time will tell, but I
think if we manage to get a five point gap open on Huddersfield at
the top, then its hard to see how we could be caught for first
place. Time will tell though.