This was a frustrating loss because Wigan should have shown more
composure having established an early 10-0 lead.
They need to
learn to take control of a match with clever kicking. Here they
got excited and errors and poor discipline led to tries against
Bradford are no different from last season on that evidence.
Yeah they may be top of the table but all their scores tonight
came from gifted field position. If we had kept them deep in their
own half, they were no threat. Can't remember a single break from
the Bulls whilst we on the other hand made two or three good
breaks, although we didn't capitalise on most of them. We just
kept gifting them sets of six in our own twenty and they punished
us every time.
I asked for a good start in the match preview and we got one
but so annoying that we didn't build on it.
Credit though that once again we finished a game strongly. At
30-10 last year we'd have collapsed into a 40+ point defeat. Not
anymore. We have the fight and the spirit to keep going. Mainly
because we have a leader now out on that pitch in the shape of
Trent Barrett. He is such a clever player and all the younger
players like Gareth Hock, Sean O'Loughlin, Chris Ashton etc will
eventually learn a lot from him.
Thomas Leuluai though was less than impressive. Yes he scored
his first try for the club and created our opening score but his
efforts were so predictable. Nothing special at all. Bit
disappointed in him so far.
Shane Millard likewise. He was on the pitch from 22 to 54
minutes and Wigan scored zero points in that time and didn't look
like scoring either. With Mick Higham on the pitch Wigan scored 28
points to Bradford's 14. Millard did have less prop power in his
defence but we look so much better with Higham on the pitch.
Wigan got off to a great start with two tries in the opening 13
minutes. They were offloading the ball at will and the passes were
The first try came in the 4th minute after Glenn
Morrison was penalised for an incorrect play the ball. Soon after
Bryan Fletcher touched down a grubber kick from Tommy Leuluai. Pat
Richards converted - 6-0 Wigan.
Wigan came close to extending their lead on 12 minutes,
Richards and Vaealiki combined well down the left and Micky Higham
was just held short of the try line.
Soon after our second try came from deep. Sean O'Loughlin broke
clear and Chris Ashton, switching to the wing today to replace the
absent Mark Calderwood, finished off in the right hand corner.
Referee Ashley Klein referred to video referee Ian Smith about
possible obstruction but the try was given. Richards missed a
difficult conversion - 10-0 Wigan after 15 minutes.
We then demonstrated how you throw away a good lead. Bradford
hit us with a quick brace of tries which put them ahead. Both were
scored by Lesley Vianikolo. His first came thanks to some great
passing out the back door by first David Solomona and then
Shontayne Hape. He dived over the line and Paul Deacon's conversion
made it 10-6.
Two minutes later and Vianikolo was in again, this time he took
O'Loughlin over the try line with him as he touched down in the
left corner. Deacon converted off the touchline to make it 12-10
to the Bulls.
More gifted field position allowed Bradford to extend their
lead in the 32nd minute. Playing the ball on the right wing, Ben
Harris aimed a kick towards the posts. Wigan's defence seemed to
be having a kip on a deckchair somewhere because a huge gap allowed Glenn
Morrison to challenge Ashton, covering from the wing, for the
ball. Ashton swung his boot and missed which allowed Morrison to
touch it down for the try. Not sure where Withers was positioned
but he went missing. Someone perhaps should have been covering
him? Anyway 10-0 had become 18-10 down for Wigan and they only had
themselves to blame.
Into the Second Half and I expected Wigan to come back
strongly. They did but not until Bradford had scored two further
The first came after just three minutes. Deacon, Ben Harris and
Andy Lynch all combined to send ex Warrior Terry Newton over from
Soon after, inevitably, Vianikolo completed his hatrick. A clever Solomona kick to the corner was dived on by Vainikolo and with
Deacon converting both tries it was 30-10 after 49 minutes and
surely game over.
Well last season we would have collapsed but we are now a lot
tougher mentally and Wigan launched a fightback with a quick
fire response. Trent Barrett was the man to stand up and be counted as
he sent Stuart Fielden over for his first Wigan try against his
old club. Fielden's second try soon followed on the hour mark. This time he was
sent over by Fletcher. Richards converted both and as quick as
Bradford eliminated our lead earlier in the match, Wigan had
clawed themselves back into the game. 30-22 with 20 minutes to go.
Wigan fought and fought but couldn't put enough pressure on
Bradford. After last week I thought the sin binning of Ashton for
holding down in the 69th minute may have been a good sign but it
was pointed out to me that we had to score twice.
We could only manage one score and it was far too late. 78th
minute and good offloading from Fletcher and David Vaealiki sent
Leuluai in for his first Wigan try. Richards converted but with 90
seconds left and 2 points the difference Wigan panicked on the
restart and coughed up possession. Frustration from Gareth Hock
allowed Paul Deacon to end the scoring with a penalty goal which
made the final score 32-28 to the Bulls.