Wigan of course have a rich illustrious history in the Challenge
Cup.They've won the competition a record 17 times, they were first winners at the
Old Wembley and of course we did the famous 8 in a row from 1988-1995.|
But if one team has been a thorn in Wigan's side during the past
112 years since Challenge Cup Rugby began, it is Leeds. Wigan have
won just 3 of 12 cup clashes at Headingley.
The first win at Headingley came way back in 1911. That was a
Quarter Final and Wigan came home 13-4 winners thanks to tries
from Johnny Thomas, Lance Todd and Percy Williams. Wigan went on
to reach the Cup Final for the first time that season but lost the
final 4-0 to Broughton Rangers.
The second win was a Round 1 clash in 1973. This was the season
that the RFL decided to split the 30 team league into two divisions
at the end of that season.
Leeds had won the league championship the season before and where
competing at the top of the table whilst Wigan were struggling to
finish in the top 16 of the 30 team league - which was the
benchmark for them competing in Division 1 the following season.
So Leeds where at the top and Wigan where mid table. Leeds must
have played dirty that day as Wigan kicked five penalty goals on
top of the three converted tries they got through David Hill, Jimmy Nulty
and Stuart Wright. The final score was 25-11.
At the end of 1972-73 Wigan scrapped into Division 1 by finishing
16th on points difference from York. The top 16 though in those
days qualified for the play offs so it was a weird situation of
having just avoided relegation but still having a chance of
winning the championship!
It didn't matter though they lost to top of the
table Warrington (yes that's right, Warrington finished top of the
league!) 30-15 in the play offs first round. Leeds went on to the
reach last ever Championship Final in which they lost to Dewsbury,
captained in those days by Sky Sports commentator "Stevo". So
Dewsbury won the championship despite having finished 8th in the
league! What a weird time the 70s was.
The last cup win at Headingley of course was last season when we
came home 22-18 winners. In the match report after I talked about
how is perhaps fate that we become the first winners at new
Wembley like we had been the first winners at old Wembley! Ha ha
Still whilst Leeds have been a cup bogey side for Wigan over the
years at Headingley, currently Wigan have a stronghold over Leeds.
They've won 5 of the last 6 clashes since August 2006. This years
14-10 win was particularly impressive. Leeds have scored an
average 32.6 points per game this season and we reduced them to
just 10! Our defence is going to have to be awesome again for us
to win this one.
However in attack we are beginning to show form. The 106 points
scored against Whitehaven has seen us follow up with scoring 38
points in both of the last two matches. Be interesting to see how
we do against Super League's best defensive side.
We are also seeing players visibly stepping up a gear. Gareth
Hock, Feka Paleaaesina in particular have been outstanding in the
last two matches. We need big performances again on Saturday.
Aside from the play off loss last year, when three away victories
proved too big an ask for Wigan (and would have been for any side
in Super League I think), all the recent Wigan and Leeds clashes
have been close affairs. Wigan have come out on top every time but
the law of averages must surely mean its Leeds turn soon? But who
knows. Like I said we've won 5 of the last 6 and only won of those
games was at the JJB! As a friend of mine said on Sunday when I
gave her, her match tickets - "I'm sick of seeing tickets for