Back at the DW Stadium for only the second time in 13 months,
Wigan made it four wins from four in Super League with an excellent hard
thought victory over a Castleford side that had also come into the game
with a 100% record.
I felt pre game that this would be a step up for
Wigan on what they'd face before and so it proved. It was a good arm
wrestle but Adrian Lam's side once again did not score any points in the
opening quarter. The earliest they've scored in any match was the 19th
Minute against Leeds last week. A strange quirk but it also alludes to a
strong bench and increased fitness as matches wear on.
With an early 6pm kick off the setting sun
was strewn across one half the South Stand end Wigan were attacking
first half yet Wigan constantly kept kicking towards the shaded side of
the pitch rather that test Castleford with sun in the eyes.
Most of the first half was seeing midfield
ping pong but the odd penalty or set restart was what was creating
Or indeed a 40/20 for Cas in the 11th
Minute eventually led to the opening score for Derrell Olpherts.
Expecting the kick they went right and Olpherts was over in the corner
with Bevan French leaving a big gap. French was clearly defending almost
under the feet of Zak Hardaker in a full back position early on but
after that 40/20 he was kept further wide. Good conversion by Paul
McShane made it 6-0.
Wigan responded in the 24th Minute with
Jackson Hastings leaving McShane for dead with nifty footwork breaking a
good 30-40 metres to get Wigan inside the 20. He was eventually collared
by Oliver Holmes but damage was done. Wigan swung right and Harry Smith
dropped the shoulder then beautifully oflloaded whilst stumbling to get
Zak Hardaker over for his fifth try in five games. Zak also converted
Wigan requlished the lead with a penalty
goal on 31 minutes but re-took the lead three minutes before half time
with quick hands left from Smith, Hardaker and Liam Farrell got French
over for his first try of the season. Wigan's goal kicking rate had
plummeted to 58% in the last couple of weeks but Zak nailed this one off
the touchline for 12-8 at half time.
I felt the signs were showing that Wigan
were getting on top towards the end of the first half and the try
Castleford got on 48 minutes to draw level was against the run of play.
They returned a Wigan kick 60 metres down the left to get on the attack
and we never recovered with Olpherts claiming a second on the right from
a kick. McShane missed conversion left the scores at 12-12.
It was unlucky because that break had come
from a great kick from Hastings that was right on the try line but
Hardaker just couldn't take in. Very unlucky it was returned like it was
but the next attempt by Hastings was wonderful and pin point.
Hardaker should have been trapped in his
own right corner but broke clear 50 metres to get Wigan across half way.
Hastings spotted Castleford's defence was short but rather than go with
hands, he put in a kick towards the left that bounced perfectly for
French to claim his second try. Hardaker's conversion was off but to
quickly get back in front after conceding was important.
A four point lead was always sweaty for
Wigan but they seemed comfortable with it for most of the remaining 28
minutes. They had wasted a few opportunties to seal it before they
eventually did with a close range crash over by Sam Powell four minutes
form time. Hardaker converted to complete a 22-12 win.
All in all an excellent victory against a
stong Castleford side and it was the bench that proved the difference
for me. Joe Bullock's time was limited but he put himself about for it
and once again Wigan got stronger as the game went on. Time will tell if
not scoring early will eventually cost but the formula is working at the
moment thats for sure.