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Match Preview: SM Pia (H) 20.04.08 - Challenge Cup Round 4 @ JJB.
Posted by Bilko on April 16 2008 - 21:34

Wigan Warriors v SM Pia - Carnegie Challenge Cup Round 4.
Sunday 20th April 2008. Kick Off 3:00pm at JJB Stadium.

Before the advent of Super League, the beginning of the Challenge Cup would be a much looked forward to event but is it just me or has it lost its sparkle?

Attendances would seem to suggest so. A fortnight ago we had a Super League clash at Leeds which attracted a crowd of 18,769. A cup tie between the sides last year saw only 9,612 turn up. Why did almost 19000 choose to go for a league match played in cold wind and hail but half didn't bother on a Saturday afternoon when it was blazing sunshine for a cup tie?

There's an article in this weeks League Express paper which makes a good point about the BBC not helping with their sporadic scheduling. In the winter days the cup rounds were always played two weeks apart so excitement could build.  This year we have 3 week gaps up to the Quarter Finals then we have an 8 week gap before the Semis. 8 weeks between rounds - that's rubbish! It just can't build up excitement being spread out like that.

It's not just that - it is quite clear that we simply do not have enough competitive teams to warrant a cup competition. National League sides simply cannot compete with Super League sides anymore and hence high floggings are the norm.

To put forward a point, I've picked up a random old Rothmans book to look back at an old round 4.

1993-94 Round 4 Results (Positions are end of year finish)

Barrow (11th Division 2) 30v58 Bradford (2nd Division 1)
Batley (4th Division 2) 8v29 Keighley (6th Division 2)
Bramley (15th Division 2) 11v20 Widnes (10th Division 1)
Carlisle (13th Division 2) 12v13 Workington (1st Division 2)
Castleford (4th Division 1) 36v4 Salford (11th Division 1)
Doncaster (2nd Division 2) 18v6 Dewsbury (7th Division 2)
Halifax (5th Division 1) 18v22 Warrington (3rd Division 1)
Highfield (16th Division 2) 4v15 Whitehaven (10th Division 2)
Hudds (5th Division 2) 16v23 St Helens (8th Division 1)
Hull KR (15th Division 1) 16v6 Ryedale-York (9th Div 2)
Hunslet (14th Division 2) 20v30 Oldham (13th Division 1)
London (3rd Division 2) 14v28 Featherstone (11th Div 1)
Rochdale (8th Division 2) 18v40 Leeds (7th Division 1)
Sheffield (6th Division 1) 42v10 Leigh (16th Division 1)
Swinton (12th Division 2) 12v18 Hull (9th Division 1)
Wigan (1st Division 1) 24v16 Wakefield (14th Division 1)

Look at most Division 2 sides there and although there have been some ties against each other most of them have competed and had a good afternoons entertainment. For example, Bramley taking Widnes all the way - Hull KR being pushed by York. St Helens were even pushed by lower division opposition.

Compare that to last year. Huddersfield 74 York 4, Hull 78 Hunslet 0, Catalans 70 Featherstone 12, Leeds 72 Workington 10, St Helens 78 Batley 14, Gateshead 4 Salford 64. Results like that are not exciting whether you win or lose.

To be fair we had a good game at Widnes when they pushed us 34-24 but they were a professional side.

Simply put we have too many semi pro sides trying to beat the professional sides and it just isn't going to happen. Semi Pro sides will rarely come out on top - this was proved by Wigan in the late 80s/early 90s.

The magic of the cup was perhaps best highlighted in recent years by Sheffield when they beat us in 1998. But the thing is that club was dead only a year later! The magic of cup now days is simply lost - until you get further towards the final and even then these days it seems well second best to the league campaign.

Anyway Wigan's cup campaign begins with the visit of French Elite League side Salanque Mediterranee Pia - who have won a French league and cup double for the past two seasons.

Pia is located just North of Perpignan where the Catalan Dragons are based. They are having a good season in the winter run French Elite League having finished second in the table. The French regular season ended last weekend and Pia are one game away from the Championship Final. They also reached the semi finals of the Lord Derby Cup but were recently knocked out in the semi finals by Limoux, who Wigan beat 80-20 in the 2004 Challenge Cup.

The obvious player to watch out for is half back Maxime Grésèque. The French international will be remembered for his two tries in the mid season test match at Headingley last season. Grésèque also had a loan spell with Wakefield on the back of that performance but only played 1 match - a 42-24 home loss to Hull. He also had a loan spell at Featherstone in 2004. It won't be the first time he's faced Wigan. Back in 2002 he was part of the UTC side that Wigan hammered 72-6 in Perpignan. Grésèque will kick the goals for Pia and is also there second top try scorer.

Top try scorer is winger Paul Franze who has scored 26 in 21 matches for them this campaign. Australian, Franze is only 26 but offers big experience to the French outfit having played in both the NRL and Super League. His career path though has been weird to say the least. He began playing lower grade rugby at Cronulla. He broke into the first team during 2002 but in early 2003 he suffered a bad knee injury which ruled him out for 18 months. He later joined Penrith before having a crack at Rugby Union in England with London Irish. Franze though wanted to return to Rugby League and joined Castleford's 2006 relegation campaign. He joined mid season and played only three games before deciding Castleford was not for him. He returned home and for 2007 he was signed by Newcastle - ironically to replace ex Wigan player Brian Carney. He played throughout 2007 but his contract wasn't renewed and now he minds himself at Pia. Clearly he is a man who doesn't like to hang around.

After that there's not too many recognisable names although one for radio commentators to look out for in Sylvain Fruteau de Laclos.

Should be a good game. But Wiganers are clearly expecting a walkover. I've heard that ticket sales have only just creeped over 3,000 which highlights how an expected cup walkover is simply not an interesting prospect for 2/3 of our season ticket holders. Eh well you read all about it on here Sunday teatime.

From a Wigan point of view it'd be nice to see one or two youngsters get a run out. Some fans are wary that we would be showing some disrespect in doing so but you have to remember we are playing a side that struggled past Gateshead.

Lets just hope Pia come here with better knowledge of the game than Carcassonne who, my grandad was telling me, came to Wigan in 1947 for a tour match and turned up to play with one of those little mini rugby balls you give the kids lol.  Full Back at the time Jackie Cunliffe was having none of it and took the ball off them and threw it into the terraces! The match was played in a snow storm and apparently the Carcassonne full back Puig Aubert kept catching the ball one-handed because he was holding a cigarette in the other hand! I was going to say that they are a weird bunch them French - but it turns out Albert was actually a German!!

Match Referee

Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley) - Age 43
First Pro Game: Bramley v Prescot - 15th May 1997
First Super League Game: Leeds 42 Huddersfield 28 - 21st March 2003
First Wigan Game: Wigan 30 London 34 - 28th March 2003

2008 Record with this Referee

No matches so far this season. The last time he officiated Wigan was a 10-12 home defeat to Hull KR in May 2007.

Last 6 Years in Challenge Cup

  Wigan Pia
2007 Semi Finalists 4th Round
2006 5th Round 3rd Round
2005 Quarter Finalists 5th Round
2004 Runners Up 4th Round
2003 Semi Finalists 3rd Round
2002 Winners N/A

Head to Head Records

First Ever Meeting between the two sides.

Wigan Form Guide - Last Six Matches

Date Opposition Competition Result Score
11th April 2008 Catalans (H) SL13 Round 11 Lost 24-26
5th April 2008 Leeds (A) SL13 Round 10 Won 14-10
28th March 2008 Wakefield (H) SL13 Round 9 Won 08-04
24th March 2008 Hull KR (H) SL13 Round 8 Won 18-12
21st March 2008 St Helens (A) SL13 Round 7 Lost 10-46
16th March 2008 Huddersfield (A) SL13 Round 6 Won 20-19

Opposition Form Guide - Last Six Matches

Date Opposition Competition Result Score
12th April 2008 Villeneuve (A) French Elite Lge Won 22-16
5th April 2008 Albi (A) French Elite Lge Won 22-12
30th March 2008 Limoux (N) French Cup Lost 14-36
22nd March 2008 Lézignan (H) French Elite Lge Lost 26-30
15th March 2008 Limoux (H) French Elite Lge Won 48-16
8th March 2008 Gateshead (A) C.Cup Round 3 Won 26-24

Previous Matches v French Opposition in Cup Competitions

Date Opposition
25th July 2007 Wigan 24 Catalans 37 (CCSF - Warrington)
6th May 2005 Wigan 16 Union Treiziste Catalane 10 (CCR5)
14th March 2004 Limoux 20 Wigan Warriors 80 (CCR5)
23rd March 2002 Union Treiziste Catalane 6 Wigan 72 (CCR5)
7th November 1992 Wigan 52 Carcassonne 0 (RTR1)

Hot

Pat Richards: 3 tries in last 2 matches.
George Carmont: 3 tries in 5 home matches this season.

Cold

Stuart Fielden: Failed to score in his last 39 matches home or away (Feb 07).
Mick Higham
: Hasn't scored at JJB in last 7 appearances.

Ticket Details

Stand ConAdultsiors Concs/Juniors
West Stand £14 £7
East Stand £14 £7
South Stand (All Ticket) STAND CLOSED
North Stand (Visitors) STAND CLOSED

Season Ticket Discounts in advance via Ticket Hotline: 0871 66 33 552
Click Here for Stadium Seating Map

UK Media Coverage

TV: No TV Coverage
Radio in Wigan: BBC Radio Manchester 95.1FM will have updates but with Man City playing from 4pm there won't be a phone in.
National Radio: N/A
Radio at Match: BBC Radio Manchester 95.1FM will have updates but with Man City playing from 4pm there won't be a phone in.
Internet Audio: Click Here for Details

International TV Coverage

N/A

Odds to Win the Cup - Best Odds Given with Oddschecker.com

Team Odds Bookie
St Helens 3/1 Totesport
Leeds 3/1 Bet 365
Warrington 8/1 Coral
Bradford 8/1 Totesport
Wigan 10/1 Better Bet
Hull FC 12/1 Better Bet
Hull KR 25/1 Totesport
Huddersfield 33/1 BetFred
Harlequins 40/1 Totesport
Catalans 50/1 Ladbrokes
Wakefield 50/1 Better Bet
Castleford 100/1 Totesport
Salford 100/1 Totesport
Bar 300/1 -
Pia 1000/1 Totesport

Match Betting

Team Odds
Wigan 1/500
SM Pia 66/1
Match Draw 66/1

Handicap Match Betting with Oddschecker.com

SM Pia have a 42 point Start at odds of 10/11. Draw 16/1

Weather Forecast

Click Here

Comments
catalancs on April 18 2008 - 00:30
hope people make the effort and go to the game. totally agree about the cup being condensed. makes me chuckle that the bbc who hold league in such low regard are allowed to dictate when the games are played. and by the way puig aubert was a legend.
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