Well Wigan did themselves no
favours in this contest by missing 5 from 7 conversions, which did
a lot to keep Barrow alive for most of this match. In the absence
of Pat Richards they tried three different kickers but none of
them looked comfortable.
Wigan could have been in total control
early in the second half with the conversions but by missing them
Barrow got a sniff of victory and at 20-24 into the final quarter
of the match, it really was anyone's game. In fact Barrow went
over at that score to potentially take the lead but referee Jamie
Leahy gave a forward pass, much to the relief of the Wigan fans.
You do have to praise the Championship side. They were
outstanding in both attack and defence. In fact they embarrassed
Wigan going forward. They made some easy clean breaks against us
and that does not bode well for Thursday's tussle with St Helens.
Wigan's attack to be truthful faired little better. It wasn't
totally poor but certainly no better than distinctly average. So,
so flat! Nothing at all really down the middle. The pack just did
not make enough ground for me. Lucky for us we have George Carmont
who is propping up our offence this season all by himself. Young
Shaun Ainscough may get all the plaudits but Carmont is the one
setting him up.
And in this contest it was down the left that Wigan did their
early damage. In the 7th minute Carmont broke away and eventually
found the supporting Ainscough who went over in the corner.
Riddell converted this one off the touchline to make it 6-0.
Five minutes later and it was Barrow who broke down the left.
Winger James Nixon raced down the wing but Wigan just about
managed to scramble back and hold him up over the line. Next
tackle though the ball went to Stand Off Liam Finch who danced his
way over the line from 10 metres out. Poor Wigan defence - he left
at least two defenders flat on their arses. Excellent try from his
point of view and close to the sticks which meant an easy
conversion for Paul Noone which levelled the score.
Barrow soon got another chance to pressure Wigan after Amos
Roberts failed to find touch from a penalty but after seeing out
that pressure, Wigan got marched down field with the help of back
to back penalties which did find touch this time.
Wigan punished with the same combination. Carmont to Ainscough
- over in the left corner. Riddell couldn't convert though so it
was only 10-6 to Wigan,
Barrow soon hit back again on 20 minutes with a superb try. 70
metres from the try line it went through the hands of Jamie Butler
and Liam Harrison before Nixon raced all the way to the line and
rounded it off nearer the sticks. Really poor defence it has to be
said. Noone converted to give Barrow the lead at 12-10!
It was now clear Wigan were not going to win this match easy
but they retook the lead on the half hour and it was the same
scorer again. This time Ainscough didn't need Carmont's help -
taking advantage of a Barrow knock on in their own 20, he received
the ball out wide and jinked his way over from 15 metres away but
Riddell again missed the goal so it was Barrow 12 Wigan 14.
Barrow though again got to put pressure on Wigan and it was
superb offloading that was causing us problems. They kept getting
the ball away in the tackle and it was creating the gaps for them
to exploit. Watch the DVD of this Wigan and learn how to do it!!!
Wigan then gifted them a penalty which personally I would have
tapped. They had us on the rack but they took the two to level the
scores at 14 all.
14-14, probably would have been a fair half time score but
Wigan managed to retake the lead in the 39th minute. Substitute
Lee Mossop broke the line and sent Sam Tomkins racing away. He
just got ankle tapped short of the line but his quick play the
ball to Carmont saw him go over and with Riddell now off the
field, it was Amos Roberts who converted to make it 20-14 at half
Into the second half and Wigan scored first in the 44th minute.
Kick went up and Barrow looked to have collected it but somehow
Shaun Ainscough got it to score a fourth try. Not sure if it was a
one on one steal or a Barrow fumble but the ref gave the try and
now having a 10 point lead Wigan looked to be taking control. But
another missed conversion kept Barrow alive at 24-14.
(Note: The tannoy announcer gave that try to Carmont and all
other press reports it seems have given it to him but I thought at
the time it was Ainscough and have had a message on the message
back up my original thoughts - so I'm going with Ainscough for a
fourth try here.)
Wigan just did not kick on from this position and a penalty
gave Barrow another shot at the Wigan line. Barrow in truth had
few chances in this match but when they did get the territory they
always punished because Wigan were not solid in defence. Liam
Campbell went over on 50 minutes but Noone missed an easy
conversion to leave Wigan six ahead at 24-18. But they soon
conceded another penalty which Noone kicked to make the score
24-20, heading towards the final quarter.
Ten minutes of tense rugby followed. Barrow sensed the upset
whilst Wigan just wanted to get a try to seal the game. Wigan had
two sets in Barrow's half but did little with it. The last tackle
options again today were so poor. And this failure to do anything
in attack gave Barrow the impetus and on 63 minutes Liam Finch fired a pass of wide to send Liam Harrison over to level the scores with a kick to come - but
referee Jamie Leahy gave a forward pass!!!!! Other end of the
field from me so I don't know but their was much relief from the
Sods law for the home side because Wigan went up the other end
to seal the match. Sean O'Loughlin sent Karl Pryce over in the
right corner. It was a possible knock on but the ref gave it and
that really was game over - despite another missed kick, this time
from Riddell who had returned to the field.
Luck was certainly in Wigan's favour but I will stress that for
how flat Wigan played, the missed conversions were what kept
Barrow in the game. It was 28-20 when it could have been 36-20. A
So into the final ten minutes and Barrow's spirit had been
broken. Riddell broke away down the middle and had four in
support. Three Wigan players and a worm in the grass. Riddell
sadly found the worm by putting in a terrible pass. Bombed a
certain score. Shocking!
Luckily for him Wigan put the final nail in the coffin on 74
minutes when Sam Tomkins stretched over from close range. Another
missed conversion though - this time from Karl Pryce. Sam went
over again in the final stages but that effort was brought back by
the ref. Barrow kept huffing and puffing late on but the clock
eventually beat them. At full time the Wigan fans gave the
Barrow team a huge clap - they deserved it.
So we are through to the draw on Tuesday Afternoon despite a
flat performance here. We struggled in truth to defend against a
lower league side, god help us against Saints on Thursday. It's an
argument whether today's score was more Barrow being exceptional
or Wigan being really poor. A definite bit of both perhaps. We are
not improving though week by week this season. That is clear to
see! And the goal kicking depth if Richards is injured is a big
worry. There were some touch conversions in fairness but it was
lucky it was only Barrow today. Most Super League sides would
punish those misses.
Have to say I enjoyed my first trip to the Barrow version of
Craven Park. The facilities are a bit dated. I mean I went for a
pee in the middle of the sideline stand and the urinal was
basically a brick with a little groove to allow the pee to trickle
to the gutter. It didn't work because it was overflowing onto the
floor. Not nice! But the terraces themselves were pretty decent!
Quite a few Yorkshire Super League grounds are worse than that. At
least Barrow have cover!