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Match Report: Wigan 38 Bradford 16
Posted by Bilko on September 01 2006 - 21:49

Click: Last Match - Click: Next Match

Wigan Warriors v Bradford Bulls. Engage Super League XI Rd 26.
Friday 1st September 2006. Kick Off 8:00pm at JJB Stadium.

Thoughts on the Match

After some shocking mid season performances in 2005 we finished the season strongly which gave us great up ahead of this 2006 season. That great hope was soon dashed and the end to 2005 proved to be a false dawn.

This year we are again finishing the year strongly but this is no false dawn. Our defence has gone in the same season from one of the leagues worst to one of the best. It was proved in this game as early doors we kept gifting the Bulls soft penalties but instead of conceding, we now have to confidence to defend our own line for repeated sets if need be.

On the back of strong defence we now have a confident attacking line. This is due to a go forward that has been lacking in all honesty since the partnership of Neil Cowie and Terry O'Connor was broken up with Cowie's retirement.

What pleases me about the pack is the youthfulness we now have. In recent years we've had 30+ old veteran forwards like O'Connor, Craig Smith, Mick Cassidy, Jerry Seuseu, Harvey Howard, Quentin Pongia etc in our line up. Not saying some of them were not value to the team but we now have Feka Paleaaesina (25 next season), Stuart Fielden (27), Danny Sculthorpe (if returning - 27), Gareth Hock (23), Harrison Hansen (21) and Sean O'Loughlin (24). All great ages. Throw in the experience of Bryan Fletcher and perhaps a experienced prop and our pack looks formidable.

The battering go forward creates the space for our backs to exploit the opposition defence. Earlier this year our back struggled to make an impact as the absence of Hock, Fletcher and Fielden left us struggling to make yards. We now have defences on the back foot and Mick Higham in particular is benefiting from this.

We must have made more breaks in this match that in the first 19 matches of the season. That's all created by the forwards. Hard work from them is what's required and our current form and a winning team is the reward if they do it.

Story of the Match

With Brian Noble and Stuart Fielden facing their old Bradford club for the first time and Terry Newton facing his old Wigan club for the first time, their was plenty of pre match hype about this one.

All match Stuart Fielden was receiving some heavy treatment from his old Odsal colleagues but he was loving every minute of it.

Micky Higham was technically facing his old Bradford club as well and it was he who's constant speed at dummy half created the gaps for Wigan to blow the Bulls away first half.

On five minutes Higham broke away from dummy half and passed inside to the supporting Bryan Fletcher.

Now if you've read the message board you'll have seen my thread about me backing Fletcher to score first try at 50/1. I put £4 on and with a £204 return on the cards my heart in mouth as Fletch darted towards the line. I thought my luck was in but he passed inside to Michael Dobson who was tackled a metre short and the chance had gone.

Five minutes later Wigan took the lead. A great powerful run from Feka Paleaaesina was what made this one, his offload sending Higham on the breakaway. Support on the inside was superb as Mark Calderwood and Danny Orr both had touches before Chris Ashton finished off the move under the posts. Ashton just like Kris Radlinski before him, in the right place at the right time. Support play superb. It's been another major improvement of this team and was superb all night. Dobson converted - 6-0 (11 minutes).

Bradford then came back with so good territory created by our ill-discipline. Fielden laid a big hit on Ben Harris but the Bulls still made big metres and only strong defence from Sean O'Loughlin stopped Newton coming back to haunt us.

We saw out a good spell from Bradford and make them pay with our second try in the 16th minute. Higham broke away again and pass inside to Ashton who darted down the left side of the field. With Lesley Vianikolo in attendance he coolly passed inside to allow Pat Richards to score rather than selfishly attempting to score himself. Dobson missed the kick - 10-0 (17 minutes).

Another great team try gave us our third try from the restart. This time Danny Orr broke through the Bulls defence as he took a good long pass from Fletcher. Dobson was in support and finished off under the sticks, converting his own to make it 16-0 (21 minutes).

Bradford then had another spell of good territory but our defence again held firm. Withers broke away but Wigan scrambled back well.

This carried on up to half time and it looked likely Bradford would score rather than Wigan. But 3 minutes before the break came a crucial Wigan try. Defending on our own line Paul Deacon whipped a ball out wide towards Marcus Bai which Richards intercepted. He raced 98 metres down the left wing, easily burning off the chase of the well past it Iestyn Harris. He rounded it off slightly to kick Dobson and easier conversion which made it 22-0 at half time.

Back on July 7th we'd had a similar dominant first half performance against Wakefield and given the opposition a bit of hope by not keeping up our domination. This was a repeat of that but that's no criticism because to keep any side to nil over 80 minutes is a big ask.

Wigan did score the first half of the second half though to quickly end any hopes of a comeback. A knock on from Withers 30 metres out was picked up by Dobson who easily touched down. Questionable whether Dobson was in an offside position but he got the benefit of the doubt and converted to make it 28-0 (44 minutes).

Bradford could have decided at 28-0 not to bother fighting back. They are going to finish 4th whatever happens in the next two weeks and basically have nothing to play for but to their credit they didn't give up hope.

On 48 minutes they finally scored and my hopes of nilling them had gone. Withers made amends for his knock on by touching down and Deacon's conversion made it 28-6.

Wigan soon hit back with a try from Wayne Godwin. He started over from close range and Dobson conversion increased our lead to 34-6.

We then began to tire. We had put a massive effort in and it was taking it's toll. We began to create errors with silly play on the back of tire minds. I remember Scott Logan in particular being guilty of silly errors. This allowed the Bulls to score on 59 and 65 minutes with tries from Andy Lynch and Karl Pryce. Deacon converted the second try to make it 34-16 with 15 to go. An 18 point lead with that time left should still be enough but the Wigan crowd was anxious, perhaps remembering the Bulls last ten minute comeback from 12-27 down to win 28-27 at the JJB last season.

Hooker Ian Henderson almost continued the fightback but a try saving tackle from Fielden denied him and the time began to tick away.

All we needed now was the cherry for the top of our cake. It was the tackle into touch of big Lesley Vianikolo in the 77th minute which created the field position for us to score last. Great effort to tackle big Les over so late in the game. The much criticised David Vaealiki was involved in that with Calderwood. I mentioned hard work in the forwards creates rewards, the backs also did their fair share.

Bradford got the ball back but a terrible kick from woeful Harris went straight into the break basket of Dobson who raced down the left for his hatrick try.

A great end to a great night. The only thing that could have capped that night off was a try for Fielden, but it wasn't to be.

Game Breaking Moment

Pat Richards' 98 metre intercept try in the 37th minute made it 22-0 and too much for Bradford to recover from.

Top Player

Michael Dobson - First hatrick of our season earns the award for him. Notable credits to Chris Ashton again for both scoring and creating tries and also Mick Higham who blitzed the Bulls at the play the ball.

Reaction to the Action

Brian Noble: "I thought we caught them quick off the ground. Mickey Higham's couple of breaks were pivotal in that first half because they looked like getting back in it. I wouldn't say it was our best performance of the season - I thought Leeds was a better performance - but I thought we executed better than we have for a while. I think that may be just the kind of thing that can galvanise (Bradford) towards the back end (of the season). It's still in their own hands, a bit like ourselves - our destiny has been in our hands, and Bradford's end of season is in their hands. I'm glad today's over really. I've got a lot of friends and family who have got season tickets at Bradford I'm obviously a proud Bradfordian too, and I always will be, but I'm a professional as well. I'm pleased it's over, though."

Bradford coach Steve McNamara: "It was very tough. They hit us with that flurry in the first half where every half break they had turned into a full break and they turned that into a try. We always knew that was the danger but we didn't do enough to counter-act it, and found ourselves a long way behind on the scoreboard. It was Terry (Newton's) homecoming, against his old club, and unfortunately he's come off second best in the very first tackle. He's a little bit frustrated. It wasn't the way he wanted to come back, but he'll live to fight another day and he'll get other opportunities."

Team Sheets

- Wigan Position Bradford -
29 Chris Ashton Full Back Michael Withers 1
2 Mark Calderwood Winger Lesley Vianikolo 5
35 Nathan McAvoy Centre Shontayne Hape 4
4 David Vaealiki Centre Ben Harris 3
3 Pat Richards Winger Marcus Bai 2
6 Danny Orr Stand Off Iestyn Harris 6
20 Michael Dobson Scrum Half Paul Deacon 7
10 Iafeta Paleaaesina Prop Joe Vagana 8
9 Mick Higham Hooker Terry Newton 13
37 Stuart Fielden Prop Andy Lynch 14
11 Gareth Hock 2nd Row Chris McKenna 11
12 Bryan Fletcher 2nd Row Brett Ferres 19
13 Sean O'Loughlin L.Forward Jamie Langley 16
- - - - -
8 Scott Logan Substitute Ian Henderson 9
15 Danny Tickle Substitute Brad Meyers 10
18 Wayne Godwin Substitute Karl Pryce 17
19 Harrison Hansen Substitute Sam Burgess 30

Score Sheet

Wigan Warriors 38   Bradford Bulls 16
Tries (7):
Chris Ashton
Pat Richards 2
Michael Dobson 3
Wayne Godwin
- Tries (3):
Michael Withers
Andy Lynch
Karl Pryce
Michael Dobson 5/7


Paul Deacon 2/3

Scoring and Incident Pattern

08mins:58 Wigan 04 Bradford 00 Try: Chris Ashton
- Wigan 06 Bradford 00 Conversion: Michael Dobson (1/1)
15mins:38 Wigan 10 Bradford 00 Try: Pat Richards
- Wigan 10 Bradford 00 M.Dobson Missed Conversion (1/2)
18mins:23 Wigan 14 Bradford 00 Try: Michael Dobson
- Wigan 16 Bradford 00 Conversion: Michael Dobson (2/3)
36mins:43 Wigan 20 Bradford 00 Try: Pat Richards (2)
- Wigan 22 Bradford 00 Conversion: Michael Dobson (3/4)
Half Time Wigan Warriors 22 Bradford Bulls 00
41mins:52 Wigan 26 Bradford 00 Try: Michael Dobson (2)
- Wigan 28 Bradford 00 Conversion: Michael Dobson (4/5)
46mins:52 Wigan 28 Bradford 04 Try: Michael Withers
- Wigan 28 Bradford 06 Conversion: Paul Deacon (1/1)
51mins:33 Wigan 32 Bradford 06 Try: Wayne Godwin
- Wigan 34 Bradford 06 Conversion: Michael Dobson (5/6)
59mins:07 Wigan 34 Bradford 10 Try: Andy Lynch
- Wigan 34 Bradford 10 P.Deacon Missed Conversion (1/2)
65mins:02 Wigan 34 Bradford 14 Try: Karl Pryce
- Wigan 34 Bradford 16 Conversion: Paul Deacon (2/3)
79mins:35 Wigan 38 Bradford 16 Try: Michael Dobson (Hatrick)
- Wigan 38 Bradford 16 M.Dobson Missed Conversion (5/7)
Full Time Wigan Warriors 38 Bradford Bulls 16

Video Highlights

Other Information

Referee: Ashley Klein (London)
Attendance: 15,830
Weather: Dry.


Milestones Reached

Wayne Godwin made the 50th appearance of his Wigan Career.
Michael Dobson reached 100 points in his Wigan career.

League Table at Conclusion of Super League 11 Round 26

- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 St Helens 26 22 0 4 847 382 +465 44
2 Hull FC 26 20 0 6 690 514 +176 40
3 Leeds Rhinos 26 18 0 8 791 477 +314 36
4 Bradford Bulls* 26 15 2 9 748 518 +230 30
5 Salford City Reds 26 12 0 14 556 483 +73 24
6 Warrington Wolves 26 12 0 14 687 669 +18 24
7 Wigan Warriors* 26 11 0 15 576 668 -92 20
8 Huddersfield Giants 26 10 0 16 559 699 -140 20
9 Harlequins 26 9 1 16 485 775 -290 19
10 Castleford Tigers 26 9 1 16 542 913 -371 19
11 Wakefield Wildcats 26 8 0 18 542 688 -146 16
12 Les Catalans Dragons 26 8 0 18 577 814 -237 16

*Wigan and Bradford both Deducted 2 Points for 2005 Salary Cap Breach

Round 26 Results
Fri 1 Sept Leeds Rhinos 54 Warrington Wolves 16 17,349
Fri 1 Sept St Helens 34 Wakefield Wildcats 12 8,991
Fri 1 Sept Wigan Warriors 38 Bradford Bulls 16 15,830
Sat 2 Sept Castleford Tigers 27 Harlequins 12 5,531
Sun 3 Sept Huddersfield Giants 24 Salford City Reds 18 5,027
Sun 3 Sept Hull FC 26 Catalan Dragons 12 10,300

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