To say this was a bad night at the office for Wigan was an
understatement. Everything went wrong to say the least. For those
supporters who can't make away games, it was not worth the 56 day
wait since we last played at home.
I am firmly in the camp though who thinks that this was just a
match too soon after Monday's bruising encounter against
Warrington. The signs of fatigue were clear as day across the park.
Tell tale signs were at scrums. At scrums the rule is, and I
hate this rule by the way, that if you rush and form it quickly,
the clock is stopped. But Wigan consistently never had the energy
to do this.
Also I reckon three times second half we made play the balls
with no one up ready to receive. A couple of times we got away with
it thanks to a sprinting up desperate player, but once we got
caught when a Cas player pounced on Blake Green's play the ball.
That summed the night up that did.
Add in Lewis Tierney's error gifting Castleford the opening
score and Pat Richards making an unforced error towards what would
have been a walkover try for at least 4-6, then I think you just
have to accept that this was never destined to be Wigan's night.
On paper the Wigan team looked boosted with Blake Green, Mike
McIlorum and Gil Dudson returning for George Williams, Logan
Tomkins and Tom Spencer. But it was questionable whether they were
I mean, Green came on from the bench and had an absolute
shocker. He kicked out of the full at one point and in attack put
two woeful kicks into the in goal that went easily dead. He got
better towards the back end of the game but its worth pointing out
that Green falls into the category of having nowhere to play
reserve team rugby. Being Australian he doesn't qualify for dual-reg
and of course can't play Academy with no over age players allowed.
Andy Powell was also given a surprise debut and it's interesting
to read Shaun Wane's post match comments about how he had intended
to only use him in the weeks before the play offs. "It was either
him or Andy Coley" he said. That highlights the problems up front
with Eric Lauaki, Ben Flower, Paul Prescott, Scott Taylor and James
Greenwood all absent. But yet it does beg the very big question of
why Tom Spencer was allowed to play for Leigh on Thursday Night?
For the record, Powell had a good debut I felt. Nice and solid.
He looked shit scared to make sure he got his play the ball correct
but make some good metres overall.
Castleford meanwhile should always have smelt blood after we had
played that tough game on Monday. I did call it. I'll pay the
royalty to Waney for copyright here but I
expected it to be tough, and it was! I do think most sides
would have beat Wigan on this performance though. They just got us
on the right night at the right time.
First twenty minutes saw no score but it was Castleford who
enjoyed the better territory. Wigan had done brilliantly to defend
with them having five sets in a row on our line at one point.
After that opening quarter I'm feeling confident that Wigan,
having been starved of possession, would burst out of it but that
proved flawless thinking because Cas took the lead on 22 minutes
with Lewis Tierney struggling to control a kick in wet conditions.
It was tough for him though because he was caught in to minds.
The kick was right on the goal line and what he was doing was
trying to keep the ball in the field of play with a reached out
arm. But the impact of tacklers created the error and Kirk Dixon
just had to put his hand on the ball to score. He then converted
We should have hit straight back and had we done so this would
have been a completely different game. Pat did brilliantly to
gather in a Sam Powell kick initially but then somehow dropped the
ball over the line with no defenders near him.
I was reminded of him doing similar in wet conditions on the
break away at Castleford in 2011, which also proved costly. On that
occasion he was on his way to scoring a try that would have made it
28-4, but we ended up drawing 22-22. Sport can come down to small
margins but I think when you are playing teams like Castleford you
got to knock the fight out of them but instead errors like that
from Pat gave them a lift.
Still no panic because on the half hour Blake Green made his
return for Sam Powell, whilst Andy Powell came on for Greg Burke.
I'm thinking this will lift Wigan's spirits, but it never really
Wigan actually had a try disallowed not long after they had made
the field but despite that you could see Wigan beginning to look
desperate for half time to be honest. We were still light in the
pack, Jack Hughes replacing Dom Crosby being quite a telling
interchange decision. Not really like for like is it?
No sooner had I tweeted that "we'll be lucky if this says 6-0",
Cas had kicked a penalty goal for 8-0 then scored a try on that
re-start to make it 12-0. The try, finished by Grant Millington,
was an absolute blinder. They went 90 metres with about four passes
in the move down the right wing but again it was a try for me that
showed that it was not going to be our night. The passes were
sticking for visitors, despite the wet conditions, and some risky
ones as well.
So Wigan now had 40 minutes to avoid suffering back to back
losses for the first time since August 2009 but any chance of a
recovery was perhaps wasted by Green. It was this period early
second half that he had his shocker. An early kick out on the full
summing it up.
After 7 minutes I'd tweeted that this was no better. "Seriously
write this one off" I wrote. Two minutes after I'd done that, Cas
got a penalty and went for goal for 14-0. Now it's not a daft
decision totally but I think they had the chance to go for the
jugular and didn't. Especially with the kick being out wide and not
surprisingly it was missed. Didn't matter because from the twenty
metre drop out James Clare scored for 16-0 with the conversion
That was the second time Wigan had conceded a try after a
penalty goal shot from Cas. Again that highlights the fatigue for
me. Not just physically but mentally. Stood around waiting for the
penalty shots they were nodding off.
So it's now 16-0 to the visitors and you honestly begin to think
whether Wigan could even avoid the nil. But I actually think Wigan
deserve credit for never giving up. The next twenty minutes was
actually a good spell.
A try came on 58 minutes from Josh Charnley that raised hopes. A
good finish by him in the right corner but sadly Pat couldn't
convert - 16-4.
We needed another try quickly and despite raising our game, Cas
somehow hung in. In fact in two sets of defence we made them,
inside their own 20, go backwards in attack. You don't see that
often once, never mind twice! Matty Smith being a bugs dick away
from a 40/20 summed up Wigan's luck but eventually that effort ended up all wasted
by Green playing the ball to nobody and a Cas man pouncing on the
In truth, despite the effort, a comeback never looked on. It was
Castleford's night despite what I felt was Rangi Chase's best
efforts to keep us in it. I felt he made some dumb decisions. He
seriously tried an outrageous attacking kick from 95 metres away at
one point whilst also dummying a drop goal attempt that looked a
bigger gift than last Tuesday's £159 million Euro Millions winners
got! The thing is it looks marvellous if it pays off but them moves
are too big a gamble if you playing test rugby against Australia or
New Zealand. If your in the lead like that during the final quarter
of the match, it's the simple basic things you need to do to get
over the line.
Anyway having missed a drop goal attempt from Jordan Tansey, Cas
added a penalty right at the end to leave the final score at 18-4.
This was never our night but it's massive now that Wigan respond
over the next two games. Having collapsed after the Exiles break
last season, some panic has set in amongst Wigan fans that history
will be repeated. It's too early to say but that's the reality
after last night. Amazing when on Monday we were seven minutes away
from going five points clear....now the lead is down to one point.
My only saving grace is that I didn't have to commentate on this
match because I would have been beside myself lol. But Bradford are
here at Wigan next Friday and you can hear my thoughts at the
ground, or wherever you are, during the match on Wish FM
(102.4FM). I'll be summarising the Full Match Commentary with
commentator Mark Wilson.