But Wigan responded well with
Darrell Goulding scoring an excellent try. Trent Barrett and
Richard Mathers combined to set it up but Goulding had to beat a
couple of defenders before scoring. Pat Richards converted - 6-6.
Wigan then got two penalties in good attacking position and
much to the consternation of some fans - they went for goal.
Personally I was happy in the knowledge that penalty goals have
been vital in many wins in the last couple of years. Didn't quite
prove vital in this match but it give us the lead for the first
time at 10-6.
Harlequins hit back though when a great mazy run from Mark
McLinden was rewarded with four points. Paul missed the conversion
so it was now 10-10.
Having retired Shane Millard in the off season, Wigan showed
great faith in young hooker Mike McIlorum by giving him the chance
rather than bringing in an experience back up hooker to Higham,
and he rewarded that faith here by scoring the first of two tries
on the day. This was a typical hookers try. From short yardage he
forced his way over and Pat converted to make it 16-10.
At that point their were about 6 minutes to half time and I'm
thinking "just get to the break" but no just with no long left a
kick from Gafa was touched down by Scott Hill - Paul converted and
16-16 would be the half time score.
Wigan normally come out stronger in second halves and in the
end it did prove that way but not before being made to sweat as
the Londoners scored two tries early in the second half. It was
all off the back of Wigan making mistakes, either fumbling or
conceded penalties. After Paul had kicked a penalty goal,
Harlequins were breaking through the Wigan line with ease first
Paul and then Gafa (with his second) scored. Paul converted the
first and missed the second but they had built a lead of 28-16
with 25 minutes to go. No team in their own back yard should cock
Wigan were looking desperate. Defending poorly and you really
couldn't see them coming back but I believe two big hits put in by
Andy Coley lifted the teams spirits. Back to back from the play
the ball Coley floored Harlequins attackers with clean hits! Hope
we see more of that this season.
Bouyed by the big hits and also the fact they stopped conceding
penalties, Wigan began to take advantage of Quins tiring defence
and with that the gaps began to appear.
After Harrison Hansen went over in the 56th minute, Darrell
Goulding got his second try on the hour mark and all of a sudden a
healthy lead had been wiped out.
The Londoners collapsed in the final quarter with Wigan
dominating possession. Feka Paleaaesina didn't make it as my "top
player" but he was outstanding and topped his performance with a
try. McIlorum then got a second before Mathers capped it off with
a debut try as he capitalised on poor Quins defending. Trent
Barrett also added a drop goal and Richards finishing with 9 kicks
from 9 - which took his 100% pre season record into league action!