Well I think Ryan Hall did us a favour last week in scoring
that late winner because we ended up with an easy
progression into the Grand Final against this meek
Huddersfield side, instead of what would have been a derby
against St Helens.
Wigan dominated the contest because
they did all the small things better and smarter. They were
not pushed into needing to find a top level performance and
that is a sad indictment on Huddersfield. Wigan were as
good as needed to be.
For them I think they lost to the same old problem.
Every time I do a match involving Huddersfield I see Paul
Anderson struggling with how to manage the interchange. In
August when they visited they lost the game after the
interchanges with Wigan putting on 18 points to nil when
Eorl Crabtree, Craig Huby and Luke Robinson were off the
Here, it seems Anderson tried to cope better by using
Crabtree off the bench this time. Trouble was, they were
already 8-0 down when he came on and whilst it would have
been fine had they found 8-6 after his introduction, it was
actually Wigan who found the next try for 12-0. That to me
is the major reason Huddersfield fall down.
Not just that though. Danny Brough. Time and again I see
him wasting energy with verbal sprays towards the referee
at every single decision that goes against him. After the
penalty try he threw the ball in anger, arguably in the
direction of the referee, either way that is a major
weakness that harms Huddersfield badly.
Compare that to Matty Smith. He isn't gods gift to half
back play Smith but what he perhaps doesn't have in top
draw individual quality, he makes up for in mental
smartness. How often do you see him verbally spraying at a
decision by an match official? I can't remember it
happening ever. 16 drop goals in three years he's kicked
for Wigan. That is smart, cool, calm, collected. Brough
could learn a lot from him.
For Wigan, what about John Bateman. I think if you asked
Shaun Wane deep down he'd rather Bateman was playing in the
back row but he has been absolutely fantastic in the
centres. Arguably that switch has turned our fortunes from
also rans into bone fide Grand Final contenders.
I say also rans because it was the week after a dire
performance away at Warrington in early July that saw the
switch made. We were dreadful at the Halliwell Jones that
evening and I remember using words like "shambles" on
A week later against Leeds, Bateman was in the centres
and we've won 9 of 11 since then. We've looked far more
solid as a unit and here against Huddersfield it was his
defence that struck me most. Jake Connor and Aaron Murphy
kept trying it on his side of the field first half but he
kept standing up and winning the tackles one on one.
The match itself saw Wigan find early control with a
good reverse pass by Matty Smith sending Ben Flower through
a huge gap under the posts for 6-0 after Matty Bowen
Mango then got a penalty opportunity for 8-0 and unlike
at Saints two weeks ago, they took the chance this time to
go two scores ahead.
Huddersfield had territory to hit back after the
interchanges came into affect but Wigan soaked up the
pressure then found a 34th Minute try in which a kick from
Sam Powell was plucked out of the air by Dom Manfredi and
John Bateman finished for 12-0, Bowen missing the
conversion this time.
The Giants threatened a try late in the half but had to
settle for a penalty with the clock expired for 12-2 from
First try of the second half was going to be huge and
Wigan found it from Dom Manfredi and with Bowen converting
well from out wide it was now 18-2. Then came a penalty try
on 55 minutes when Scott Grix clearly tripped Bateman,
which stopped him from scoring. That decision by the video
ref meant the conversion was brought in front of the posts
Another penalty from Bowen made it 26-2 with 15 minutes
to go and the job was pretty much done. Even when Brett
Ferres scored a consolation soon after for 26-8 it never
threatened a comeback, despite Sky claiming it "was on".
The Giants were well beaten and Wigan sealed their third
consecutive Grand Final appearance with a last minute
converted try from Tony Clubb.