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Midweek Blog - Round 5 ----> Round 6
Posted by Bilko on March 15 2016 - 23:48

I can only assume Wigan borrowed the “I have a cunning plan” mantra of Baldrick, of Blackadder fame, this week.

In the previous two games against Salford and Hull FC it was from the 55th Minute that those two sides found a rally of scores to inflict comebacks, albeit wasted ones, on Wigan.

This week Wigan seemingly decided to wait until the 55th Minute before they themselves would finally execute their attacking plan and fire off four quick fire tries. That certainly is tactics as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.

Seriously though, it was refreshing to hear Leeds coach Brian McDermott telling Sky Sports after the game that he basically thought Leeds had been awful all night and accepted they were lucky Wigan’s play kept “breaking down” first half. He summed the match up perfectly because had Wigan executed better that could have easily been a 50 plus shellacking.

Whilst the breakdown, which is occurring mostly towards the left side, is frustrating, I’d be more worried if we weren’t getting in those positions in the first place.

The late withdrawal of George Williams from that area of the field I’m sure didn’t help either but don’t worry, I’m convinced this is all part of that cunning plan. We are saving the full on attack for Good Friday!

One thing that become clear though is that Oliver Gildart has to stay in the centres. For me he has been an absolute joy to watch in his Wigan career so far.

When kids come up from the academy you quickly see them enduring the one test playing for the Under 19s can't replicate. That is how they react to having big crowds on their back and the constant pressure that brings. You see players either sink or swim pretty quickly.

Gildart is not only swimming well, he looks like he'd cope swimming in a tsunami. I can't recall sitting there and ever thinking that he'd done something bad, or stupid or was struggling. You almost forget that last Friday was only his eleventh senior appearance. He's crossed seven times in that time also and most impressive for me is that he isn't getting walkover tries, he can beat a man over the line. .

Oli's move into the centres has seen Dan Sarginson go to full back and first impression against Leeds was that he was getting into the right zonal areas but a lot of the break down mentioned earlier was around him.

It was interesting to hear Brian Carney saying that he "doesn't pass enough" during their commentary, it's certainly a point labelled at him by some Wigan fans, but I think it could develop well that switch in the long run but we'll see how he gets on this week.

Another point of praise against Leeds was our pack. Whilst you can focus on Leeds struggles, a big part of it was that we didn't let them get down field much at all.

Our pack never gets much praise, perhaps because we don't necessarily have the standout individuals like an Adam Cuthbertson (on last years form), Alex Walmsley or Chris Hill?

I can sometimes see where some a coming from when it's suggested our pack is a bit small but despite that they can be a very efficient unit.

Tony Clubb and Ben Flower are the consistent leaders for but in the last couple of weeks I feel Lee Mossop and Taulima Tautai are being to support them better than perhaps they did last season. Ryan Sutton maturing with age is a big boost also.

Generally I think a good all round pack effort is a huge reason why we have so much control over teams defensively so far. Conceding 13.2 points per match is a great top standard anyway but in the first 55 minutes of each Super League match so far we are conceding just 4 points on average.

This week though we test our best defence against the best attacking side in Widnes, who are catching the headlines at the top of Super League. I think some are getting a bit carried away though.

Sky’s Bill Arthur promoting the game during Catalan v Warrington coverage on Saturday referred to “Denis Ranieri Betts”, a play at Leicester City’s manager. Pass me the sick bucket!

The media seem desperate for someone in Super League to “do a Leicester” but whilst Widnes have done well so far, they have played a game more than all but one of the nine teams below them.

They’ve also had the luxury of playing all three sides they were relegated to the “Middle 8s” with last season on top of struggling Leeds and Huddersfield sides.

In the next few weeks they have Wigan, Warrington and Catalan away with home games against Saints, Castleford and Warrington again. That would test Wigan, let alone them.

The reason they are getting those headlines though is because they are averaging 35 points scored per match. If they can get close to that this Thursday then Wigan can't afford to be wasting opportunities like against Leeds.

If Widnes can win then I'll hold my hands up and say “fair play”. They'll then deserve the Leicester like headlines and whilst I wouldn’t be pleased of a Wigan loss obviously,  I wouldn’t be too gutted either because it would give Widnes a huge chance of making the “Super 8s”.

For the mid season split system to be deemed a success then I think we need different sides making it this year and early scores suggest they and Salford have a great chance. In fact as I write it's an all Lancashire Top 5 in Super League. I'll get that into this column whilst I can because if it was an all Yawkshire Top 5 we'd never be hearing the end of it now. Hopefully all the sides this side of the pennines will finish in the Top 8. We shall see.

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