|Well in my Match Preview I talked about Wigan struggling to back up big wins during the regular season in recent years, but they could have done no better than this outstanding display.|
I've been doing match reports on this site for a few years now and I don't think I've seen a more dominating half of rugby than our first half effort today. During the first forty we made zero handling errors and had 95% set completion, our only incomplete set being George Carmont bundled into touch a metre out early on. It took Catalans 32 minutes to reach our half of the field, which by then they were already 30-0 down on the score board.
And what about the individual display by Pat Richards. He equalled the club Super League record for tries in a game (5 tries set by both Jason Robinson in 1996 and Tony Smith in 1997) whilst his 38 points set a new all time club record for most points in a League match beating the previous record set by Andy Farrell who scored 32 points in a clash with Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants at JJB Stadium in 2000. In the end he fell just short of the all competitions club record of 44 points in a game set by Jim Sullivan in a Challenge Cup Tie v Flimby & Fothergill United way back in 1924.
Coach Michael Maguire shuffled his squad after the bruiser last week against Warrington. Harrison Hansen and Feka Paleaaesina dropped out of the 17 and with Mark Riddell returning as hooker, Thomas Leuluai reverted to Scrum Half with Paul Deacon dropping to the bench. Phil Bailey started in the second row for Hansen whilst Eamon O'Carroll made his first appearance since last March in place of Paleaaesina. Strong rumours tonight on the terraces that Feka was dropped and not injured after playing just ten minutes at Warrington last week.
I was reading this morning that Dewsbury had been forced to travel by coach down to play Toulouse this weekend after a strike by French Air Traffic Controllers had seen their flight cancelled. I bet Catalans wished they were stuck back at home after this dismal display.
The game kicked off five minutes late after a minutes silence was held for club president Peter Higginbotham who passed away recently. After the silence they played a rendition of his favourite song "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner and a banner that said "Higgy 1943-2010" hung from the top of the South Stand.
The signs were ominous right from the start for the visitors with George Carmont going close down the left wing but his efforts to score only saw him bundled into touch. But on nine minutes down the same wing, Pat Richards scored his first of the night after Catalans had gifted Wigan easy territory with a knock on close to the line. Pat then hit a sweet touchline conversion to miss it 6-0.
On 14 minutes it was almost like watching an action replay as Pat went over again in the left corner. He did well to push away from some poor tackling but it was his goal kicking that impressed tonight with a second touchline conversion making it 12-0.
His hatrick was completed on just 20 minutes and it was a familiar routine. It didn't need anything special to score against the poor French side. The forwards just punched it up the middle then once the ball was swung wide we were in. Quick hands, Pat over for his hatrick and a third touchline conversion made it 18-0.
It was total Wigan dominance and the fourth try came four minutes later, but this time it did need a little bit of invention. Sam Tomkins put in a neat close range kick for Sean O'Loughlin to pounce upon. Much easier conversion for Pat made it 24-0.
A new real time countdown clock situated at the back of the West Stand was showing that Wigan were scoring at a point a minute and that continued with the fifth on 28 minutes. This time down the right win the ball was swung wide to send Darrell Goulding over for an easy score. Pat may have swapped wings to convert but he still added the extras off the touchline to make it 30-0.
Finally though after 32 minutes Catalans finally made it to the Wigan half, but only to knock on twenty metres out.
Another knock on from the French, this time twenty from the their own line, allowed Richards to claim his fourth try of the night and again it was so easy. Sam Tomkins chipped towards him in the corner and he collected and touched down with ease. He converted to make it 36-0 and that's how it stayed till half time.
Wigan had put in a flawless first forty minutes but ended up immediately on the back foot at the start of the second half after Catalans won a short kick off. But defence was up to the task, despite being under pressure for the first time in the game.
I make it 48 minutes that Wigan made their first knock on and although a couple more followed it was some achievement on the heavy DW Stadium pitch. Catalans though had nothing to give in attack. A last tackle kick out on the full by Adam Mogg showing how inept they were.
Their frustration was clear to see and Chris Walker decided to take it out on Wigan with a high shot seeing the touch judge race onto the field, but Walker got just a lecture from referee Ben Thaler.
Wigan hadn't scored for a while but after forcing a drop out they hit Catalans with a quick fire double. Thomas Leuluai, now playing at nine with Deacon at seven and Riddell on the bench, flopped over from a metre out before George Carmont got his first of the night. Both tries came down the left, the position of damage for most of Wigan tries. Those following my twitter updates would have seen me write "Greedy bitch Carmont, should have passed to pat for his fifth" but Pat converted both to take the score to 48-0 after an hour.
Whilst club records were getting nearer for Richards, Catalans were getting nowhere near scoring a point. It was so comfortable for Wigan.
They just bided their time and the chances came. If you recall the winning try last week when Sam Tomkins chipped over the top to collect, well it was repeated again tonight by Deacon this time. But after collecting his own kick, Sam knocked on the resulting pass.
The merry flag wavers were perhaps getting bored because they both raced on to report another Catalan high shot, this time by Casey McGuire but no real malicious intent in it, penalty sufficient. Although Wigan failed to complete the resulting set, Adam Mogg threw a pass straight to Carmont who raced 70 metres for the try. Having tongue in cheek called him a bitch last time, Carmont this time was looking to pass to Richards but he had to take the try himself as Pat had eased up when it was clear no defender was going to get close to stopping the try. Another conversion from wide made it 54-0.
The final try came with six minutes left as Richards claimed his fifth of the night. Again down the left he broke to score but he couldn't keep up his 100% conversion rate. His effort hit the post which Wigan fans reacted to with a round of boos. But a full time he deserved the sponsors man of the match award for an emphatic individual display but it'll be a long time before Wigan get a more easier win that this in Super League.
Catalans were an embarrassment! Wigan though just took their chances with ease and 58-0 is a big marker to lay down, a week after winning at Warrington away. Bring on the next game!
On the injury front Sean O'Loughlin was brought off just before half time but coach Maguire said it was "slight concussion" and he "will be fine".
Finally I was trying to think of a Wigan negative at half time, because the pints are not the same without them, but the astute "Neil_A" off our message board came up with one in that Amos Roberts was totally anonymous tonight! Awful display, no tries! Shocking! ;)