Great result for Wigan this. After the
debacle last Sunday and the illness crisis affecting the
team, the last opponent we perhaps needed to play was a
bogey Castleford side.
We still laboured in attack for the
first hour at least but to come home with a wet sail of
better fitness was a great triumph given the circumstances.
John Bateman was the ultimate
difference. His solo try on the hour broke the backs of
Castleford and the result never looked in doubt after that.
You could tell straight away in the game
that Wigan were not lacking energy like was so obvious at
Wakefield. The first set was good in defence but sadly
ruined by an early penalty conceded by Willie Isa, for a
late hit on Luke Gale. That hit certainly upset the Radio
Yorkshire commentators behind me but my eyes had moved away
to where the kick was going, so I didn't see it. Given my
eyes had followed the kick it must have been late but
whether it was a major foul who knows.
Castleford didn't score from that but a
second penalty helped them towards the opening try from
Denny Solomona. Nice finish and Luke Gale converted for 6-0
to the visitors after 8 minutes.
It was perhaps big for Wigan that they
responded to that very quickly. Within four minutes in fact
with Lewis Tierney chipping forward to finish himself near
the sticks. Cas were incensed by a forward pass that wasn't
given and to be honest I think they had a fair case. Luke
Gale spoke to Phil Bentham too harshly though and was
dispatched to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Matty Smith
converted for 6-6.
Wigan didn't really threaten with the
man advantage. In fact the only addition to the score first
half was a time expired penalty by Smith for 8-6 at the
It had been a good battle in the
forwards for a long time but from a Wigan point of view the
attack was still failing like so often this season. Then
when Cas took the lead again early second half, Grant
Millington crossing and Luke Gale converting for 12-8, it
began to look ominous for Wigan.
However, the response to that set back
was good. The last half hour was actually territorially
dominated for Wigan. It make have taken that solo try from
Bateman to burst the dam but Cas had been hanging on for a
few minutes before then. Smith converted on the hour to put
Wigan 14-12 ahead.
What helped Wigan keep control in the
final quarter was the last tackle improving massively. We
all of a sudden started putting kicks that left Cas trapped
in their own quarter rather than returning easily.
The match was eventually decided in the
70th Minute with a lovely first career try for Nick Gregson.
He played well in this match to be fair and his try was a
lovely drop of the shoulder to burst a gap and round
slightly towards the posts. That helped Smith convert for a
crucial two score lead at 20-12.
A short kick off won still gave Cas hope
but Wigan saw off a couple of sets and that proved to be
that. Bateman then put the cherry on top of his match of
the match cake with a second try in the final minute, Smith
kicking a good goal to complete a 100% conversion night for
I hope we can carry that last twenty
minutes into next week. The improvement in the kicking game
gave us control and with it good game management. Perhaps
it was a game too far for Castleford, who've had injuries
themselves in recent week. They did flag but after what we
went through last week, this was a great recovery in the