Bradford Bulls v Wigan Warriors- Super League XII Elimination Play Off.. Friday 21st September 2007. Kick Off 8:00pm at Odsal Stadium.
Thoughts on the Match
Well I'm sure I wasn't only one who travelled home from Odsal last night in gobsmacked disbelief.
What we witnessed there was like in football being 4-0 down away from home well into the second half and coming back to win 5-4.
I could do 80 more years watching Wigan (I'd be 104) and I doubt I'd ever see a comeback like that.
I'll be honest, I'd well given up. I'd gone into post mortem moaning mode and was reflecting on another season were hopes were built but dashed yet again.
But this was typical Wigan. They can look great and look woeful within an 80 minute show and it just leaves the question, why not play like that from the start? So annoying.
But hey we carry on and travel to Hull next Saturday Night.
Story of the Match from Official Website
This was unbelievable. In a simply sensational game at the Grattan Stadium Wigan Warriors produced a magnificent final 30 minutes to claw back and win this engage Super League Elimination Play-Off match against all the odds 31-30 against the Bradford Bulls. Richards with a late drop goal to snatch the win.
This was the comeback of all come backs. The Warriors were 22-6 down at the interval thanks largely to a first half hat-trick from David Solomona and with a 30-6 advantage early in the second, it was fair to say it looked game over. Just as it looked as if the home side had booked their place in the next stage all of a sudden, Wigan came to life and scored a hat-trick themselves in a ten minute spell.
There was then a sense of belief, desire and when the Warriors levelled at 30 all it was down to Pat Richards to slot home the winning point from 20 metres out with just a few minutes left. The Warriors had the momentum and the Bulls were simply stunned.
The Bulls took the lead with just four minutes on the clock. Newton with a long pass and McKenna had David Solomona in support. He was able to cut inside the Warriors defence for the first try, Iestyn Harris added the extras, 6-0.
Wigan looked to respond and earned a goal line drop out on 14 minutes after a Leuluai kick was cleared by Platt. A cross field kick by Barrett was taken by Tupou as the Warriors looked to turn up the heat.
On 19 minutes, Barrett sent Richards away down the left. His kick on was well defended by the full back Platt.
Bradford were in for their second try on 23 minutes, a mistake by Mark Calderwood from a Harris kick allowed the Bulls six more tackles and from another kick to the corner Tame Tupou was able to dive on a loose ball to extend the home sides lead. Harris added a superb conversion to give Bradford a 12-0 advantage.
On 27 minutes, Wigan were right back in it. Barrett sent out a long pass which split the Bulls defence and David Vaealiki was able to gather and draw the full back to send in Thomas Leuluai for the try. Richards goal made it 12-6.
The Bulls restored their 12 point advantage as half time approached. David Solomona diving over from acting half back. The video referee awarding the try, benefit of the doubt as he just managed to ground despite the close attention of both Higham and Richards.18-6 to the Bulls.
Wigan gave away a penalty for holding down in the tackle and Bradford took advantage. Harris with a pass to Solomona who stretched out for his hat-trick with just two minutes of the first half left. This time the conversion was missed, 22-6.
Wigan needed the first try of the second half to try and claw their way back into it but it wasn’t to be. Within two minutes of the restart Morrison combined with Ben Harris and then Iestyn Harris for the try which he himself converted, 28-6 and a huge task now facing Brian Noble’s men.
A high tackle by Skipper Sean O’Loughlin was put on report and from the penalty Harris added another two points, 30-6 with 49 minutes on the clock.
The deficit was reduced as Mark Calderwood crossed for Wigan’s second try following a pass by Phil Bailey. Richards goal made it 30-12 on 57 minutes.
Credit to the Warriors despite the score they did continue to battle to try and find a way back forcing two goal line drop outs in quick succession. The Warriors scored again through Calderwood out wide as Barrett sent out a great pass. The extras were added 30-18 with 16 minutes left.
Within two minutes Wigan had made it three tries in 9 minutes as Barrett sent in Harrison Hansen for the points. Richards slotted over the goal 30-24, game well and truly on.
Unbelievably the Bulls lost possession in their own half and Mark Calderwood raced away to the huge delight of the travelling fans for another Wigan try, his third of the evening. Richard’s conversion made it all square 30-30.
Richards added a sensational drop goal with four minutes left and although Bradford did get up the other end they couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
The players and fans couldn’t believe what they had witnessed. This was awesome and Wigan spectators stood to a man to cheer their heroes off. They will now travel to Hull or Huddersfield next Saturday night.
Game Breaking Moment
Bradford substituting Terry Newton and David Solomona thinking the game was already won played straight into our hands.
Pat Richards- Trent is getting all the plaudits but never underestimate the vitalness of Pat Richards goal kicking in that comeback. Three kicks off the touchline plus the vital drop goal.
Reaction to the Action
Brian Noble: "The manner of the last 20 minutes was pretty good from us. Bradford were the better team for the first 60 and I feel for them. They will be kicking themselves. (Bradford) kicked really well and were physical in the middle and a host of one-on-one misses from us kept helping them. At half-time we had a belief we could score three tries. It transpired that we had to score four but we found a spark. I thought we had thrown the game away, I'll be honest, but we asked them to play for 80 minutes and we finished the game really strong. I don't know many teams who could do what we did in the last 25 minutes. We didn't panic and that freaky score at the end put us on the front foot. It was a special effort, especially here and I'm extremely proud of the players. We will have to improve next week but there is a huge belief and a huge determination to do very well."
Bradford coach Steve McNamara: "This is as bad as it gets, as tough as it gets. The boys are a bit bewildered. We are obviously hugely disappointed not to get the result because for large parts of the game we dominated. We have learned a harsh lesson tonight. It overshadows what was a very good display by the Bulls in lots of departments. We came up with some real fundamental errors which gave Wigan a chance to get back into the game. Momentum is a huge thing in rugby league and things can change very quickly. Maybe a bit of panic set in and some boys came up with some mistakes. I'm as disappointed as I've been but next season starts tomorrow."
Marcus St Hilaire
Bradford Bulls 30
Wigan Warriors 31
Tries (5): David Solomona 3 Tame Tupou Iestyn Harris
Tries (5): Thomas Leuluai Mark Calderwood 3 Harrison Hansen
Goals: Iestyn Harris 5/6
Goals: Pat Richards 5/5 + 1 DG
Scoring and Incident Pattern
Try: David Solomona
Conversion: Iestyn Harris (1/1)
Try: Tame Tupou
Conversion: Iestyn Harris (2/2)
Try: Thomas Leuluai
Conversion: Pat Richards (1/1)
Try: David Solomona (2)
Conversion: Iestyn Harris (3/3)
Try: David Solomona (3)
I.Harris Missed Conversion (3/4)
Bradford Bulls 22 Wigan Warriors 06
Try: Iestyn Harris
Conversion: Iestyn Harris (4/5)
Penalty Goal: Iestyn Harris (5/6)
Try: Mark Calderwood
Conversion: Pat Richards (2/2)
Try: Mark Calderwood (2)
Conversion: Pat Richards (3/3)
Try: Harrison Hansen
Conversion: Pat Richards (4/4)
Try: Mark Calderwood (3)
Conversion: Pat Richards (5/5)
Drop Goal: Pat Richards
Bradford Bulls 30 Wigan Warriors 31
Steve Ganson (St Helens)
Mark Calderwood- First Hatrick for Wigan. Pat Richards -First Career Drop Goal.
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