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Match Report: Celtic Crusaders 22 Wigan 16
Posted by Bilko on June 14 2009 - 20:49

Click: Last Match - Click: Next Match

Celtic Crusaders v Wigan Warriors - Engage Super League XIV Round 16.
Saturday 13th June 2009. Kick Off 6:00pm at Brewery Field.

Match Report

Well I've got to be honest even without Gareth Hock, Sam Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin (called up to the England test side to play France the same night) I expected Wigan to turn up at Brewery Field and run them ragged whilst earning a comfortable victory but what we saw was a poor effort against a spirited Welsh side.

I make that the eighth time this season Wigan have lost a match after being within a try of being able to win going into the final stages of the game. This defeat was particularly galling though against a Celtic side with only 1 win prior to this match.

When we got back from 16-6 to 16 all we should have gone on to win but like so many times this campaign we just don't have the composure in pressure situations.

The half backs have to take the blame for that. Tim Smith was poor and Leuluai doesn't do enough for me. The kicking game continues to be lacklustre. We just don't have the craft, guile or composure in those pressure situations and coach Noble has to take the blame for that. He signed these players after all.

It's not only the backs, our pack was easily defeated. Joel Tomkins had an excellent end to last season but has been average this year. Mark Riddell continues to look like a fish out of water. In truth the whole set of backs just were not good enough. Our go forward was poor.

The home side were well up for this one though. Wigan's glory days may be a thing of the past but nationally we are still the biggest name in the game and new sides lift when they play us at home. This was not the first time a new franchise has humbled us as defeats to Fulham (1980), Paris (1997 although we beat them in 1996), Gateshead (1999) and Catalans (2006) testify.

The welsh had severe injury problems to contend with as Australian imports Tony Duggan, Josh Hannay and Marshall Chalk were all absent but it didn't seem to bother them too much.

It's been a bug of mine that Wigan have started matches far too slow in the last couple of seasons but not this year. Over 50% of our tries this season have been scored in the opening twenty minutes! And again we started well in this match with Shaun Ainscough, returning to the wing after missing the two games against Salford, going close but Luke Dyer denied him with a superb try saving tackle. It was all Wigan first ten minutes but our failure to score seemed to give the Crusaders confidence, which grew when they took the lead in the 15th minute.

A breakaway down the left by Mark Lennon was supported by Peter Lupton who sent Jace Van Dijk over for the score. Tim Smith old defensive woes have returned I'm afraid. Lennon broke straight through him and Amos Roberts for that break. He also converted the try to make it 6-0.

Wigan soon hit back. A kick from Leuluai deflected kindly off Mark Dalle Cort for Harrison Hansen to easily touch down. Pat Richards converted to level the scores.

Celtic regained the lead though seven minutes before the oranges as Van Dijk again showed Tim Smith's awful defence. Smith was stood on the wing and absolutely nowhere as Van Dijk's kick over the top was collected by substitute Peter Lupton. He rounded off nearer the sticks so Lennon's conversion was much easier and 12-6 was how it remained until the break.

Into the second half and the Crusaders extended that lead. Van Dijk was showing our half backs how to play. He went probing from dummy half and got the ball out wide to Dalle Cort who went through more embarrassing defence, this time from Shaun Ainscough and Harrison Hansen. They both went far too high. Lennon couldn't convert off the sideline though so it was 16-6.

Wigan have been in the position of chasing games in the second half so often this season it was no surprise to see us doing it again. Equally no surprise to see us come back and then still lose - it's the Wigan 2009 "how we lose" text book.

First on the hour from a scrum base Smith found Leuluai who found Cameron Phelps and he had two men on him as he crashed over. Not the best defence to be fair but the try was converted by Pat making it 16-10.

Then on 69 minutes it was Smith and Leuluai again who combined to get us over. Ball in hand these two prove to be useful players but like I said my bug with them is our kicking game, or lack of. The Celtic defence fell for a dummy towards Feka by Smith and he got the ball out wide to send Amos Roberts in the corner. Crucially perhaps, Pat couldn't convert this but now it was 16 all with ten to go and we all really expected Wigan to win.

Discipline had been superb during the game which meant easy yardage was hard to come by. In fact I believe the first half didn't see a single penalty from either side (even more remarkable because Ganson was the ref) and Wigan only conceded two all game. But it was a dreadful knock on from Feka ten metres from our line that gifted Celtic the chance to win the game. The pressure on the line soon told as they again targeted Tim Smith out wide and again he failed to defend. I really don't like criticising individuals but his defence is embarrassing. Watch the tape, three tries all down to his poor defence for me. He just can't do it. Lupton claimed his second by running straight through him and, I think, Martin Gleeson it was as well.  The conversion was kicked given Celtic a 6 point lead again to which they held on to dearly for the final 4 minutes.

Have to say they thoroughly deserved it. Excellent effort. For Wigan, well we have a week off to reflect now and it looks like we've a massive battle on just to make the play offs. Very poor!

On the weekend itself I have to say I enjoyed visiting a new place. The ground wasn't that bad I thought. The sideline terrace I stood up was superb and the bar at the back was a nice touch. Not so sure about the "portaloo" toilets though. Excellent pub (The Riverside) next door as well but the fact the sun was out allowing the hoards of Wigan fans to congregate in the car parks did help massively.

You got the feeling though that the town of Bridgend isn't exactly embracing this new side. One local asked a mate of mine what the score was and his amazed response was "what?????? Bridgend beat Wigan?" - they don't even know the name of the side. Another amazingly asked if "Martin Offiah still played for Wigan?". Knowledgeable about the game they are not! In the conservative club I was met by a couple of locals droning on about Union this and Union that but in truth by this point I was getting too pissed to argue with them. I also don't recall seeing a Celtic shirt anywhere around town (apart from in the ground itself). Overall though I found the place nice and friendly. Just a shame about the result.

Reaction to the Action

Brian Noble: "I thought when we got back to 16 all I thought we had another score in us but we dropped a few balls and gave them field position. We got what we deserved in the end, we were architects of our own downfall and that's why it's hard to stomach. I can see some angry fans who travelled down here and I can understand why. It looks like there was no effort, there was, but some of our skill and some of our decisions were really poor. I hope this is a wake-up call for the end of the season, that's how we have to treat this. I am extremely disappointed with what we dished up today. I am part and parcel of that and I am not hiding behind it. Some of the things we did from players who have been playing well weren't there. We did lack a bit of fluency and you are bound to miss strike players like those. We also had to change it half way through the second half, when we put Phelps back at full back ,we then looked a whole lot better again. With the vagaries of the salary cap it showed that we need our best players on deck each week to compete. You look at the result, it is difficult to hide and I'm not going to hide behind that. We showed them pictures and told them this week if you let this team play and you give them a leg up, and we gave them several leg ups, they can play. We have to stew on this result now, I hope this result hurts the players because it hurts me. We need to respond and play better in our next game. Hopefully this was a one off to where we have been. I was disappointed with some peoples effort. We have now put some pressure on ourselves."

Celtic Crusaders coach John Dixon: "I'm elated for the players and the club. We talked during the week about Wigan coming down and, to play as well as they did was terrific. This is what you play footy for. It is a special place to be with the team at the moment. It was about effort and execution. That is what it was about today. We hung in. Our ball control in the first-half was nothing short of outstanding. Captains have to stand up and, even though he took a hell of a knock towards the end of the game, there is no way he is going to come off. We tried to simplify things this week and maybe that has raised their execution and we got the result at the end. This win is huge, not just for this club but for rugby league. That's what this win does. I talked to the players afterwards and said they have to understand what they have done today. To win against such a high-profile club will do wonders for the game in Wales, there is no doubt about that."

Team Sheets

- Celtic Crusaders Position Wigan -
6 Damien Quinn Full Back Pat Richards 5
2 Luke Dyer Winger Amos Roberts 2
18 Mark Lennon Centre Martin Gleeson 22
4 Mark Dalle Court Centre Cameron Phelps 21
5 Anthony Blackwood Winger Shaun Ainscough 28
12 Darren Mapp Stand Off Tim Smith 6
7 Jace Van Dijk Scrum Half Thomas Leuluai 7
8 Ryan O'Hara Prop Andy Coley 15
9 Lincoln Withers Hooker Mark Riddell 9
10 Mark Bryant Prop Paul Prescott 19
17 Jordan James 2nd Row Phil Bailey 12
19 Jason Chan 2nd Row Harrison Hansen 16
21 Chris Beasley L.Forward Joel Tomkins 14
- - - - -
11 Adam Peek Substitute Stuart Fielden 8
15 Peter Lupton Substitute Iafeta Paleaaesina 10
20 David Tangata-Toa Substitute Mike McIlorum 17
23 Neil Budworth Substitute Mark Flanagan 26

Score Sheet

Celtic Crusaders 22 --- Wigan Warriors 16
Tries (4):
Jace Van Dijk
Peter Lupton 2
Mark Dalle Cort
--- Tries (3):
Harrison Hansen
Cameron Phelps
Amos Roberts
Goals:
Mark Lennon 3/4
--- Goals:
Pat Richards 2/3

Scoring and Incident Pattern

15th Minute Celtic 04 Wigan 00 Try: Jace Van Dijk
- Celtic 06 Wigan 00 Conversion: Mark Lennon (1/1)
22nd Minute Celtic 06 Wigan 04 Try: Harrison Hansen
- Celtic 06 Wigan 06 Conversion: Pat Richards (1/1)
33rd Minute Celtic 10 Wigan 06 Try: Peter Lupton
- Celtic 12 Wigan 06 Conversion: Mark Lennon (2/2)
Half Time Celtic Crusaders 12 Wigan Warriors 06
54th Minute Celtic 16 Wigan 06 Try: Mark Dalle Cort
- Celtic 16 Wigan 06 M.Lennon Missed Conversion (2/3)
61st Minute Celtic 16 Wigan 10 Try: Cameron Phelps
- Celtic 16 Wigan 12 Conversion: Pat Richards (2/2)
69th Minute Celtic 16 Wigan 16 Try: Amos Roberts
- Celtic 16 Wigan 16 P.Richards Missed Conversion (2/3)
75th Minute Celtic 20 Wigan 16 Try: Peter Lupton (2)
- Celtic 22 Wigan 16 Conversion: Mark Lennon (3/4)
Full Time Celtic Crusaders 22 Wigan Warriors 16

Referee

Steve Ganson (St Helens)

Penalties Conceded

Celtic Crusaders 4 Wigan 2

Match Attendance

5,253

Match Milestone

Mark Flanagan made his Wigan first team debut in this match.

Weather

Dry Sunny Night

League Table at Conclusion of Super League 14 Round 16

- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 St Helens 16 13 0 3 491 272 +219 26
2 Leeds Rhinos 16 11 0 5 399 249 +150 22
3 Hull Kingston Rovers 16 10 1 5 372 297 +75 21
4 Harlequins 15 10 0 5 389 269 +120 20
5 Huddersfield Giants 16 10 0 6 382 269 +113 20
6 Wakefield Wildcats 17 9 0 8 413 395 +18 18
7 Wigan Warriors 17 7 0 10 390 343 +47 14
8 Hull FC 16 7 0 9 316 371 -55 14
9 Warrington Wolves 16 7 0 9 355 413 -58 14
10 Castleford Tigers 16 7 0 9 345 421 -76 14
11 Bradford Bulls 15 6 1 8 326 375 -49 13
12 Catalans Dragons 15 6 0 9 352 418 -66 12
13 Salford City Reds 15 5 0 10 252 433 -181 10
14 Celtic Crusaders 16 2 0 14 240 497 -257 4

Round 16 Results
Fri 12 June Hull Kingston Rovers 10 Harlequins 40 7,874
Fri 12 June St Helens 50 Castleford Tigers 10 9,680
Sat 13 June Celtic Crusaders 22 Wigan Warriors 16 5,253
Sat 13 June Wakefield Wildcats 37 Hull FC 22 4,721
Sun 14 June Leeds Rhinos 20 Huddersfield Giants 12 14,934
Sun 14 June Warrington Wolves 10 Bradford Bulls 21 9,606
Postponed Salford City Reds v Catalan Dragons -

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