If you've been browsing the Wigan and Castleford message boards on
RLFans.com you'll have noticed theres a lot of fire amongst the
supporters ahead of this one.
The fire is stoked by Castleford fans bitterness at their 2006
relegation - during a season in which Wigan were found guilty of
breaking the salary cap.
In some respects they do have a point - but the fact is they
beat us both times during that season. Maybe it'd be a more valid
argument if we've have taken points off them but late that season
they had two chances to survive by beating Wakefield and they
failed miserably both times. In fact it was the three defeats to
Wakefield that ultimately cost them their Super League place.
Other reasons? Well there defence was woeful. It conceded 145
points more than any of their relegation rivals!
Goal Kicking - They kicked just 66 goals throughout that year
compared to Wigan's 108. Danny Brough only played 10 matches for
them and finished top points scorer despite only scoring 1 try!
Goal Kicking was crucial to our survival. How often did a penalty
goal prove the difference in that run in? And we didn't even have
Super Pat kicking for us!
Anyway onto this season and the 2008 Castleford side looks like
it will struggle again. They haven't got an experienced goal
kicker and they let their best player - Danny Brough - leave in
the off season. In terms of goal kicking at the moment they are
putting their hopes in 18 year old Joe Westerman. Great prospect
but throwing a kid in so early doesn't always work. We should know
with the likes of Luke Robinson and Kevin Brown as major examples.
Last week they built up a nice 12-2 lead but struggled badly
second half as Catalans came back to win 21-12. They lacked
leadership. Brough would have probably have taken
control of that game and won it for them but without him no one
really stepped up to the plate and the Dragons won despite being
reduced to 12 late on.
Brent Sherwin is the man who Cas brought in to replace Brough
but he had an awful debut.
Wigan - well they simply need to
improve on defence. We should control this game but more often
than not its games against apparent lower opposition - early in
the season - that have caught us out - i.e Hull KR twice in 2007.
In the last two seasons our home form has been almost identical.
Lost 5 of first 6. Won last 8.
2007 - Lost 4 of first 6. Won
Just emphasises that these early weeks of the season are
what will destine our fortunes come late summer. We always finish
the season strongly. So a good start will be massive.
task one (get off to a winning start) in London last week, task
two is perhaps to go the season unbeaten at home. Trent Barrett is
certainly thinking about.
He said: "We made a goal
that we want to win all our home games. The scoreline doesn't
matter so long as we win."
The last time we won our first two league fixtures of the
season was 2001 and the second victory came against Castleford
with Phil Jones scoring an hatrick at The Jungle. (whatever
happened to him?).
A win here will set us on our way nicely in 2008 - and it'll
probably be needed with harsh trips to Hull, Warrington,
Huddersfield and St Helens to come in four of the following five