I turned up at the DW on Friday Night in
realistic mood. I noticed looking at the squads that
Warrington had every one of squad numbers 1 to 14 in their
squad and they all ended up playing in this match.
Wigan in comparison were absent of squad
numbers 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 14. A massive difference and
realistically a strong Warrington should be beating a Wigan
side devoid of that kind of strength.
So the fact they did so was no surprise
and thus I was philosophical
about it. That first half hour they produced so Grade A
stuff against us yet we still managed to make them sweat
all the way to the end of the game.
Fair enough the loss of Chris Sandow
during the game was a blow to Warrington but we played the
second half without Sean O'Loughlin also and ended up with
an academy back rower, Nick Gregson, at Stand Off.
Despite this we never stopped trying to
come back, even though 26-4 down looked impossible, and I
take a lot of heart from that. To me to still show fight
from an impossible situation is a bigger picture.
I mean just think about it. Would anyone have
expected a Warrington side absent of Matty Russell, Rhys
Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Ashton Sims
and Joe Westerman (equivalents of our absences on Friday)
would have beaten a Wigan side that included Sam Tomkins,
Anthony Gelling, George Williams, Dom Crosby, Micky
McIlorum, Ben Flower and John Bateman? I don't think so.
That said they still would have had
Chris Sandow and I think his early performance in this game
is why a lot of Wigan fans came away disappointed. I
suggest a lot left asking themselves when was the last time
a Wigan half back played with such quality like that?
It's a fair question but to be fair
also, he is a marquee player for a reason. Warrington were
not the same side when he left the field thats for sure.
Still, I just think we should judge Wigan, against an
opponent like this, when they have more of their ace cards
out the field.
In the match itself, it always felt like
it was Warrington's night. I am utterly convinced that Liam
Farrell wasn't fully fit and his sin binning followed by a
foul towards an eight point try were pivotal moments.
You couldn't really fault him for the
sin bin, they had broken us for numbers, but the eight
point try was a hammer blow given we'd just got back into
the match at 14-4 and looked like we had a bit of momentum.
To end up going in 22-4 down was tough.
In the second half we got back to 26-16
and with twenty minutes to go I did feel we had half a
chance still. Our problem though was that we couldn't put
pressure on Warrington because we had zero quality on the
Matty Smith becomes an obvious target to
blame for that but Warrington had him marshalled into
hussle all night. So someone else needs to stand up but
when your left with a rookie like Nick Gregson, it's tough.
In hindsight we perhaps should of utilised Sam Powell more?
Still given we were 26-4 down, to have
Warrington taking a shot at goal plus drilling every last
tackle kick into touch was a moral achievement. Not the
kind we aspire to at Wigan but in the context of our
absences, I think we have a bigger picture at play here.
You have to credit Dom Manfredi for his
hat-trick in defeat. That brought up 40 tries for Wigan in
only his 42nd appearance. Good stuff.
Jack Higginson did ok on debut but
defensively we were exposed more often than not in his
defensive area. A tough lesson but thats the harsh reality
of Super League. He can learn well from this.
So in conclusion it's not a good result
but as long as we don't back this up with another loss
against Wakefield then we'll be ok. Yes our attack is still
a big issue but an opponent like this is not a time to
judge, in my opinion, with us having so many players out.
Warrington were excellent in this game and deserved the
win, but it's a long season. It's not the first time
they've had an handsome victory at the DW yet failed to win
at Old Trafford. They do look like they'll be mighty hard
to stop though. Time will tell.