It's not often I have chosen to bag referees over the year's doing this site but on this occasion you can't let pass what an awful game Ashley Klein had tonight.
He was giving Bradford penalty after penalty early on in the match but we got nothing despite constant slow interfering at the play the ball. He also completely bottled a decision when Semi Tadulala nailed Cameron Phelps. It was a shocker. We've had so many red cards recently it was annoying to see that go "on report".
And finally there was a scrum during the second half in which he asked the video ref to determine who should have the feed!!!!! What's all that about?? Still, I'm glad I can say he was garbage in victory than in defeat.
I mentioned in the match preview that Wigan could not afford to start slow but they did and got away with it. Bradford could only muster up an 8-0 lead despite dominating early territory and getting numerous penalties off Mr Klein.
What lifted Wigan though was the subs bench. It was far stronger that Bradford's and the introduction of Feka Paleaaesina and more importantly Gareth Hock lifted our intensity no end and from that moment we controlled the game. Thomas Leuluai was also sensational and well deserved of Sky's man of the match. My man of the match will go to Hock though just for the lift he gave the whole team and his brilliant solo try.
I think the best thing I could say is that the victory tonight wasn't perfect but it was a good win. We now need to step up yet another gear next week whoever we'll be playing.
A knock on after 20 seconds kind of set the tone for Wigan's start to the game. Very bitty and frustrating.
Referee Klein was giving them numerous penalties and Bulls half back Paul Deacon slotted one over for a 2 point lead after four minutes.
The visitors also thought they had scored the first try when winger Semi Tadulala palmed Deacon's kick back for Chris Nero to touch down, but video referee Phil Bentham ruled a knock-on. I wasn't sure on that one. If there is such a thing as a "momentum rule" that surely it's a try? It was one of them though - wrong if he gives it, wrong if he doesn't.
The Bulls kept penalties but we not converting them into tries. That was until 22 minutes when prop forward Andy Lynch went over for what was a soft try for Wigan to concede. Deacon converted and the Bulls led 8-0. I wasn't worried at this point - Wigan just needed a good spell of possession and eventually it came.
It was the introduction of Hock and Feka that sparked Wigan into life. Patient build up, and a penalty given after a blatant obstruction on a kick from Barret, eventually got Wigan on the score sheet when Thomas Leuluai stretched over for a close range try on the half hour. Paaat converted to make it 6-8.
Wigan kept the pressure on. First Trent Barrett went over but was held up on a last tackle. But from that Joe Vagana knocked on in front of his own posts and Wigan punished. Stuart Fielden barged for the line and got hit by a fantastic tackle which put him on his arse. The Bulls fans celebrated that tackle but Fielden just got up, played it to Leuluai who sent Hansen in under the sticks. Paaat converted to make it 12-8 and Wigan would take that lead to half time.
During the half time break Bradford lost their goal kicker Paul Deacon to injury - which would prove to be a blow they never recovered from.
Wigan would score first second half and it was a huge break from Leuluai that set up the field position. Fielden sent him racing away on a 70 metre dash. It had looked as if he'd actually blown a try but the ball was swung out to Trent Barrett who put in a neat grubber for Mark Calderwood to just about touch down. He almost slipped out of the try area which would have been embarrassing but thankfully he got away with it. Paaat converted to make it 18-8.
The Bulls then hit back with some intense pressure? Why? Well they got three penalties in a row from Klein. Lynch went over for a second try but was brought back for a forward pass. However soon after Simon Finnigan when he took Terry Newton's short pass to go in for his side's second try. Harris converted to make it 18-14.
Now the nerves started jangling but you knew Bradford could only score if they were given the field position via penalties to do so. They could not go full length. Not conceding penalties was the key.
A long injury break for the second incident involving Tadulala and Phelps I think actually helped Wigan. It killed the pressure the Bulls were creating.
The next try was obviously vital and Wigan got it when another neat kick from Barrett was collected by Calderwood who in turn sent Joel Tomkins over for the match winning try. Paaat's conversion made it 24-14. Before that try Pat had missed an easy ish penalty goal but it didn't matter in the end.
Hock put the seal on our win when he beat five defenders on a jinking run to score Wigan's fifth try, with Richards taking his goal tally to five.
Good result despite the upheaval of having to switch to Widnes. 6,806 is our lowest "home" crowd since the visit of London to the JJB in April 2000 but as it was technically an away gave we travelled well and you have to remember our near rivals St Helens have had crowds not much higher than that for actual home league games!