Well.............how the bloody hell did we manage to win this one?
I think that was the post match conclusion of most after Wigan
required four tries in the last 16 minutes to turn an 18-4 deficit
into a 26-20 victory.
Coach Shaun Wane came across very relaxed
in the post match press conference but the way our attack
functioned here is a big concern for me. I think it's lacked
clinical flow for three matches now. The cohesion we had earlier in
the year is certainly missing at the moment.
In that post match press conference coach Wane seemed to be
hinting that their are players playing who are not fit, on top of
the obvious absences, and that seemed to show.
In particular Blake Green struggled I felt. It all broke down
around him to be honest with the timing way off. That is a concern
ahead of a cup tie. I'm sure he'll find his touch again in time but
on this form, it's a gamble to play him ahead of Sam Powell in the
cup next week.
Mike McIlorum also struggled here. He was removed from the field
after just 20 minutes which is very unusual for him. Whether this
was because of injury or tactical I'm not so sure. That said, I
think played a part in sparking Wigan's late rally when he
Coach Wane made a switch at Full Back with Ryan Hampshire coming
in for his first start ahead of Lewis Tierney. A late withdrawal
for Darrell Goulding saw Iain Thornley return at right centre
having played on the left for most of the season. Chris Tuson
replaced Greg Burke at Loose Forward whilst Ben Flower returned on
the subs bench.
On a lovely summers evening, the match started perfectly for
Wigan. First attack and it's nice hands with Crosby, Green, Smith,
Hampshire and Thornley all getting a touch before Charnley finished
the 50 metre move in the right corner. Pat missed the extras but
that was an ominous start for a 4-0 lead.
After that though it was a pretty grim watch from a Wigan point
of view for the next 60 minutes or so. I'll keep saying it - our
attack was there in territory but really struggling for ideas to
get over the line.
Bradford meanwhile were pretty basic in what they did. I never
got the impression they were dominating despite that fact that had
built up a 16-4 lead by the break with three tries from Michael
Platt, Adam Sidlow and John Bateman. Don't get me wrong it was
deserved but it felt more that it was Wigan failing here rather
than Bradford massively achieving this lead.
Second Half was pretty much all Wigan to be honest, but again
the failure in attack was shown by the fact we hadn't managed to
score before the hour mark. In fact Jamie Foster tagged on a
penalty goal for an 18-4 lead on 58 minutes.
Wigan's waste in attack was soon highlighted again when Gil
Dudson made a massive break right down the gut. He had Matty Smith
on his left shoulder for the score but never seemed to look or get
the call and the move ended up wasted, albeit with a drop out
For all the waste however, it proved that Bradford were being
worn down and three of their own errors contributed to their
eventual downfall. Luke Gale kicked out on the full when he seemed
to be trying for a 40/20. Their was a stupid forward pass thrown in
their own half and Nick Scruton made a knock on a metre from his
I think it was from the Scruton error that the comeback began.
From that scrum on the left, quick hands saw Smith and Hansen
combine before a lovely flick out the back from Hampshire sent
Charnley over for his second. Bad conversion attempt from Pat
though left the score at 18-8.
Crucially Wigan backed that try up with another straight after.
Green's pass got Liam Farrell away from half way and Tuson was
inside to finish under the posts. Easy conversion made it 18-14.
The digital clock in the stadium wasn't working so how long
remained was to be a mystery to most but luckily the time keeper
was sat directly behind the Wish FM commentary point so we had
knowledge that plenty remained for Wigan here.
From the re-start though - Ben Flower only went and knocked on.
We had Bradford flapping and that let them off the hook. Perhaps
crucially in the end though, instead of trying to find a killer
try, they conservatively added a penalty goal when they got the
chance for 20-14.
Turned out to matter little because Wigan soon scored another
try. Smith and Hampshire combining to send Iain Thornley over. That
try ironically left a conversion from pretty much the same spot Pat
had missed from on Charnley's second but he nailed this one to make
it 20 all.
Again with no stadium clock, the fans and players had no idea
what time remained but Wigan still had five minutes to nick and
Drop Goal looked the best option but Matty Smith had an attempt
blocked by Scruton. It gave us a back to one though and from it we
found a try instead. Smith's pass saw Tuson break through after
Adam Sidlow had moved to tackle dummy runner Crosby instead. Tuson
had just Jamie Foster to beat but his effort to stop him was
frankly embarrassing. He didn't even lay a finger on him!!! Pat
converted for 26-20.
This proved to be the last play of the game. The fact their was
no visible clock meant that Bradford now had no idea how long
remained and they laboured towards a re-start that never happened
because the hooter went. If they had known they only had 15 seconds
or so they would have rushed to try a short kick off at least.
So a win in the end and it could well prove to be the biggest
win of the season. It keeps the press vultures at bay ahead of the
Widnes cup tie and the hope is that we will re-click into gear in
attack, to get our season back on track. Ten days break is probably
going to prove very timely indeed.