Well what a massive effort
from Wigan tonight to come back and win after a dreadful start and
the week of off field insecurity we've just had. Well done boys.
But for me the story of that match was simple. Mark Riddell
playing hooker I think the score was 22-0 to Hull KR. McIlorum at
hooker and the score was 36-6 to Wigan. Might be a massive
coincidence but I texted people during the match that we'll win
this easy as long as Riddell didn't come back on. Riddell did came
back on and a comfortable 30-16 lead became 30-28. Maybe I'm
Tim Smith going off injured after 7 minutes with what looked
like a dislocated shoulder was also a blessing because Sam Tomkins was
outstanding. I reiterate what I said on the board it is pointless
playing Tim Smith when it looks like he is leaving at the end of
the season. We may as well blood Sam and reap the future rewards.
Anyway Wigan started the game dreadfully or maybe the match
started dreadfully for them? George Carmont took an early knock
and Tim Smith came off with a suspected broken arm. Rovers
dominated possession and took advantage with two early tries for
winger Peter Fox.
The first on three minutes came after Amos Roberts, with the
sun in his eyes, failed to collect a Michael Dobson bomb, easy
plonk down for Fox. Then Kris Welham sent Fox racing down the left
wing and he looked to have bombed a certain try when tripped over
his own boots. But luckily for him the only player that could stop
him scoring was Tim Smith who clearly had injured his arm. Fox
gave himself up actually but Smith just couldn't do anything.
Dobson converted one of the two tries to make it 10-0.
Fox then could have claimed a hatrick before Wigan finally
started to get into the game. 10-0 flattered Wigan but it was a
scoreline that kept them in the game and the introduction of Sam
Tomkins and Mike McIlorum was a big factor in the turnaround as
well as getting some good possession.
Wigan opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. A kick to the
corner from Sean O'Loughlin was collected by Amos Roberts who sent
Phil Bailey over from close range. Richards couldn't convert off
the touchline so it was 10-4.
On 22 minutes the scores were levelled. Sam Tomkins produced it
with a beautiful jinking step to break through the Rovers line and
he found the supporting George Carmont who had shaken off an early
injury. The try was converted by Richards to make it 10-10.
Wigan were now on a roll and on 27 minutes they took the lead
for the first time. From a scrum Wigan swung the ball out wide and
Pat Richards drove at Shaun Briscoe and took him over the line
whilst scoring in the corner. Video ref had to decide if he
grounded before his leg went in touch. Tough call it was a bugs
dick between it but I think he just got it right. Couldn't convert
though so it was 14-10.
Rovers would hit back to retake the lead before half time. Mick
Vella drove over from close range and Dobson converted to make it
16-14 at the break.
Into the second half and Wigan hit Rovers just like they had
done to them at the start of the match. They dominated territory
and scored three scores in a 13 minute spell. Three minutes in and
Bailey drifted over for a soft try to which Richards again failed
to convert. 18-16 though now to Wigan.
Then on 49 minutes Sam Tomkins kicked a superb 40/20 which saw
Harrison Hansen go over from the resulting scrum. He had taken a
forward pass in truth but after the hooter farce at the JJB
earlier in the season proved - you take your luck!
Wigan continued to pressure and after Kris Welham knocked on in
his own half Wigan scored after O'Loughlin sent Sam over for a
last tackle score. Richards found his kicking boots to convert
both those two efforts to make the score 30-16 to Wigan.
It was a painful watch after that because you knew Wigan just
needed one more score to win it but they couldn't find it. Riddell
came back onto the field for McIlorum and maybe a coincidence but
Hull KR came back into the match after that.
Errors from Wigan also helped with 3 conceded penalties and a
couple of handling errors in a spell which saw first Daniel
Fitzhenry and then Jake Webster score. Dobson converted both to
leave Wigan sweating on a 2 point lead in the final 7 minutes.
Rovers attacked the Wigan line twice in that period before a break
from under his own posts from Richards won the game.
Richards brought it out from under the posts towards the right
passed out wide to Roberts who raced away and drawing the full
back passed back inside to Richards who went on to embarrass a tired defender by rounding it under
the sticks when he should have been trapped out wide. Stevo on Sky
claimed it didn't really matter because the game was won but fact
is it did matter. The easy conversion made it an 8 point lead and
game over rather than 6 point lead and a slender chance for Hull
KR to draw.
It was such a relief but well deserved victory I thought. The
three early missed conversions from Pat made it tougher than it
perhaps should have been but 7 tries to 5 in Wigan's favour shows
how they deserved it.