|Well we always knew our first defeat of the season would come, but it should never have come close to happening tonight. It may sound daft, having built up a 20-0 half time lead, but I think Wigan lost this match with their first half performance.|
Bradford were terrible first half but Wigan kept wasting territory time and time again. Ok we did manage to score 4 tries, but it should have been more than that. Maybe even just one more try would have sealed the win.
20-0 kept Bradford's hopes alive and after quickly getting back to back tries early in the second half, the momentum was all theirs!
Wigan did have the chances to win the match themselves but to their credit Bradford's second half defence matched our first half efforts.
Amos Roberts though will have the biggest lesson to learn tonight. Ok he did put in a superb run in the lead up to our second try, but fact is no one will remember that now. They will just remember his poor loose carry that gave Bradford easy territory to nick a late win. Why didn't he just put the ball up his jumper? That's the question most Wigan fans were asking at full time. You don't hold the ball with one hand when four points up with two minutes to go. That was the difference in the end.
So a defeat is a set back, especially in the manner it was achieved, but it may well be a good thing with big games against Hull, Leeds and St Helens to follow over the next four weeks. It's stops the fans getting carried away as well. Let's remember that unless Warrington win by a margin of 46 or more on Sunday we will still be top of the table.
With kick off approaching, Odsal was plunged into darkness with floodlight failure. It was pitch black but you could still see more than that fog game the other year! Anyway the lights did come back on in time for kick off.
First penetrating attack of the game went to Wigan on 3 Minutes. Last tackle bomb from Sam Tomkins, towards Pat Richards, caused Bradford's defence all sorts of problems and Wigan ended up with a back to one ten metres away. The error got them in position to take the lead, although only after an offside penalty under the sticks saw them refuse to take the two on offer. Wise decision because after just 1 tackle, Amos Roberts fired a long ball out wide, which bypassed three defenders, to give Darrell Goulding an easy score in the right corner. Richards couldn't convert - 4-0 Wigan.
Bradford's first real attack on the Wigan line came in the 10th minute, the territory being gifted by two penalties conceded by Andy Coley. Amos Roberts was forced into conceding a drop out after a neat kick from Brett Kearney caused problems. Bradford wasted the drop out by throwing an interception to Goulding on the second tackle. Good work from Goulding he read the play well.
On 13 Minutes Wigan should have increased their lead. George Carmont sent Richards racing away down the left wing from half way. On a clear break, he surely just needed to pin his ears back and head for the corner but instead he cut back inside and Sam Tomkins failed to take his pass. Totally bombed try. Sam should never have knocked on but Richards should would have scored had he darted for the corner!
Two minutes later a penalty conceded by Matt Orford got Wigan right on the Bulls try line but a pass from Roberts was too strong for Martin Gleeson to take.
Another chance for Wigan came on 19 minutes. A kick from Sam was causing problems again and Richards flicked the ball back towards Carmont but Paul Sykes tackled him into touch. Sadly George was injured in that collision and would soon be substituted for the rest of the game. Joel Tomkins was switched to centre with Phil Bailey off the bench to play second row, despite his vast experience at playing centre.
21st Minute now and Wigan had another set of six camped on Bradford's try line. But a poor pass from Thomas Leuluai had Sean O'Loughlin reaching in the air to catch and unfortunately the referee deemed a knock on. So that was now four good chances for Wigan, all wasted. 4-0 was very flattering to Bradford.
Finally though on 25 minutes Wigan would increase their lead. Defending a last tackle kick ten metres from his own line, Amos Roberts went on a brilliant run all the way to twenty metres from Bradford's line. Couple of tackles later a lovely jinking step from Sam Tomkins completely fooled the Bulls defenders and he found Harrison Hansen in support to score the try near the posts. Easy conversion for Pat made it 10-0.
Bradford were really struggling to get anywhere near the Wigan line, whilst hanging on in defence. More Wigan pressure came in the 29th minute when a huge bomb from Richards forced a drop out. But on the last tackle of the repeat set, O'Loughlin threw a shocking pass to Richards that was both forward and too high. Richards actually did well to pluck it out of the air with one hand and touch it down. Would have been a superb effort had it not been forward. Another wasted chance though for Wigan, that was now five efforts ending in errors!
Wigan though would at least make the scoreline more of a fair reflection with two late first half scores. The first came on 35 minutes with the Bulls defence caught short after Feka Paleaaesina had been tackled. Roberts broke from dummy half and a beautiful flick out the back door pass got O'Loughlin breaking away and he had Sam Tomkins in support to score his first try of the season under the sticks. Richards conversion made it 16-0.
Pat himself scored next on the back of a penalty conceded by Wayne Godwin. This try was created by a lovely one two passing move between Sam Tomkins and Hansen. Sam passed to Hansen who batted it straight back to Sam and that caused just enough hesitation to allow Joel Tomkins to send Richards in the corner. It took some scoring from Pat though, he had to use all his strength to reach over the line. He couldn't convert off the touchline so 20-0 would be the half time score. Better than 10-0 but those five missed chances would prove to haunt Wigan in the end.
The only excuse that can be offered for Wigan's second half collapse is that the wind that was now in Bradford's favour. But in truth the Bulls clearly stepped up in defensive intensity whilst Wigan continued to do what they did first half, which was force the pass far too often. They just needed to keep calm and be clever but didn't neither of those things.
Bradford's comeback didn't exactly look likely from the off. It took a clean break to finally get them believing. Craig Kopczak made the half break and offloaded to send Godwin racing clear and he had Kearney in support to score close the posts. Easy conversion for Matt Orford made it 20-6.
From the next set Joel Tomkins conceded a penalty and Bradford took advantage to score again. Wigan hung back expecting a last tackle kick but Orford darted for the line and did well to touch down, again close to the posts. The easy conversion made it 20-12 and game on with half an hour to go. Like I said Wigan should have scored more first half points and they were now ruing that fact.
Paul Deacon was immediately brought on to steady the ship but could do nothing about Roberts knocking on a last tackle kick to give the Bulls a chance to score again. But they wasted that chance with a poor ball thrown into touch.
The game began to tighten up into a midfield battle but it was Wigan who began to look more likely to seal to win. They definitely just needed one more try to take the two points and their first chance came on 59 minutes. But on a last tackle Thomas Leuluai sent Joel Tomkins down a blind alley and he could do nothing with it. Poor end to a set.
A better end to a set on 63 minutes forced a drop out. Deacon put a high bomb up towards Richards again and the Bulls just about managed to take the ball but Gleeson tackled the defender behind the line. Having got to the last again, Wigan tried to get Richards over in the corner but Joel Tomkins' pass was deemed to have been touched by Heath L'Estrange as it went into touch.
So Wigan now had a third set at Bradford and surely they would get over? Leuluai tried to scramble over from very close range but knocked on. So a game that should have been wrapped up long ago was still all to play for.
Wigan would get another chance to win the match on 67 minute after Orford's conceded penalty got them twenty metres from scoring. They repeated the tactic of bombing towards Richards but this time their was no Bradford fumble, Paul Sykes diffused the ball in goal. Wigan had used the same tactic all night and this perhaps highlights a lack of ideas?
So how many wasted chances was that then? 9, maybe 10? Bradford were still in the match and they would finish the stronger in the last ten minutes to unbelievably win the game. It took some help from the referee who deemed Richards to have obstructed on a last tackle play. Although Bradford wasted a chance themselves with a poor last tackle option they defended well on Wigan's efforts and scored on their next possession.
The try came off the back of some great work from Jamie Langley who twice broke through Stuart Fielden's attempts to tackle him. Maybe the Wigan props were beginning to tire, remember we had been a substitute down for 50 minutes at this point, since George Carmont went off injured. Roberts eventually halted him but the damage had been done. Orford darted over from close range again to score and although he missed the conversion, the Bulls now needed only one try to either draw or win the game.
Seven minutes were left on the clock but neither side were getting close to scoring until the 79th minute when Roberts made a fatal error. Having done all the hard work in defending a bomb from Paul Sykes he ran away clutching the ball with one hand and in the impact of the tackle from Orford and Sykes he lost it!
The Bulls had all the momentum right on Wigan's line and with 100 seconds to go Glenn Hall scored from close ranges right under the posts. They still had to convert to win but it was obviously and easy kick from Orford to seal the points.
17 seconds remained as Wigan tried a short kick off but it didn't work. That confirmed our first defeat of the season, a defeat that never should have happened.