|Well I wrote in the match preview that Castleford couldn't clean break, and that proved this afternoon at The Jungle. They needed help from errors or penalties to get on the attack and unfortunately for most of the first half Wigan obliged.|
It was a scrappy first half effort but in previous years we'd have probably been over a converted try down from that kind of performance, but today we actually led!
In the second half it took us just nine minutes to seal the two points and at the end of the day the win is all that matters. Wigan just had far too much pace with Amos Roberts, in particular, pulling the strings.
Wigan called up youngster Chris Tuson from his dual contract at Blackpool to replace Harrison Hansen. This was only Tuson's second appearance after a brief run out against Leeds in 2008. He went onto the bench with Phil Bailey starting in the second row. George Carmont returned at centre, meaning their was no place for Darrell Goulding, whilst Feka Paleaaesina remained in the Reserve Team.
An very early injury to Cameron Phelps forced him to swap positions with Amos Roberts but that perhaps helped us, more than hindered us.
Two early penalties conceded by Cas got Pat Richards in position to kick a Penalty Goal. That decision surprised some fans on the terraces but it showed some respect for the opposition. Joe Westerman kicked a penalty of his own on eight minutes to level the scores at 2-2.
The Tigers should then have punished Wigan's kick off after it sailed out on the full but they couldn't get over the line.
Wigan had barely attacked until 14 minutes when Roberts, running on the angle, took a lovely inside pass from Sean O'Loughlin to score in the left corner. Richards couldn't convert - 6-2 Wigan.
Next attack saw Wigan score again. This try was an easy one with Phelps having a walk in down the right wing. Richards struggled to kick off the touchline again though - 10-2 Wigan.
From the restart referee James Child decided to penalise Stuart Fielden for playing on when tackled. Fielden was getting interfered with and had looked to have broken out of the tackle but Child had deemed it complete and so Cas had a penalty ten metres from the Wigan line. And they scored from the easy territory with Michael Shenton claiming the four points. Westerman couldn't convert - 10-6 Wigan.
I mentioned Cas needing help to get up to the Wigan line and after helping them along with two penalties, they punished again. Same try scorer, this time he had an easy walkover the line. Poor defence for that one. Westerman converted to put the home side ahead at 12-10.
Wigan responded well soon after with a trademark pluck out the air try from Richards. Bomb went up and despite two defenders in attendance, Pat out leaped the pair to score, again though he failed to convert. 14-12 Wigan.
I mentioned Phelps having to switch to the wing injured and it was at this point in the match (on the half hour) that he went off. This saw a switch around with Martin Gleeson moving to the right wing and Joel Tomkins to right centre. Phelps didn't return.
Castleford had a chance to hit straight back at Wigan, after the referee's whistle had again marched them up field, but Wigan survived this time.
With the hooter approaching, Wigan had a big chance to increase their slender lead after a knock on by Cas, ten metres from their own line. But we immediately knocked on overselves That summed up a sloppy first half from Wigan, despite the 14-12 lead.
I twittered at half time that they "needed a kick up the backside from Maguire" and clearly they got it. Much better second half and like I said, it took us just 9 minutes to seal the win.
After Cas had defended one Wigan set, they couldn't handle a burst clear from Roberts and Joel Tomkins was in good support to score. Richards hit the post to miss his fourth conversion however. They were making it harder work for Wigan at 18-12.
It wasn't all good in this match winning spell though. Wigan had knocked on from the restart of that try but it soon wasted. Roberts then claimed his second try to make it 22-12. Fourty metres out he brilliantly out stepped a would be tackler before crossing the line. The defender was left looking foolish with his hands of his head! Hallelujah, finally Pat added an extra two! They had all been difficult kicks previously in fairness but this one was easy to make it 24-12.
From the restart Wigan scored again. Same man, Roberts with the break and he had loads of support either side. Sam Tomkins and O'Loughlin to his left and Joel Tomkins and Gleeson to his right. It looked to me like he had chosen to wrong option, but Joel Tomkins fended off the last defnder to score his second try under the posts, Easy extras made it 30-12 with 29 minutes to go and it now a game only Wigan could lose.
Like I said Castleford needed help to get close to Wigan's line and for the next 15 minutes it wasn't forthcoming. It ended up a midfield battle, but that ate up the clock nicely.
That was until 65 minutes when Rangi Chase was sin binned for throwing a slap. This came after he had been awarded the penalty, so it was a bit stupid. The penalty still remained with the home side and they scored from it. Michael Wainwright hitting through an overlap which shouldn't really happen with a man advantage. Wigan should be disappointed they let him in. Westerman's conversion missed, meaning they still needed to score three tries at 30-16.
The Tigers didn't give up and another Wigan penalty got them on the attack but fortunately they were penalised for crossing.
Wigan then scored again to rubber stamp the two points. It came after Ryan McGoldrick was penalised for a high shot on Andy Coley. The penalty was bang in front and I'd have taken the two to eat up the clock (6 minutes remained) but they tapped and Phil Bailey offloaded to send Roberts in for his hatrick from close range. Well deserved hatrick it was as well. Richards converted to make it 36-16.
The foot was taken off the gas in the final moments and this allowed Cas to score a consolation in stoppage time, through Mike Cooper, but it was too little, too late. Conversion from Westerman made the final score 36-22.
So you have to be pleased with the two points, after all The Jungle is never an easy place to visit. Have to say I wasn't that impressed with Phil Bailey. I'm assuming Harrison Hansen was injured but Bailey looks way down the pecking order to me. Great in defence but we are a more attacking side now and that isn't his game. Maybe he is still gathering match fitness but although he did a neat offload to give Roberts his hatrick, he was disappointing in my eyes.
Anyway the win takes Wigan two points clear at the top of the table with Leeds and St Helens to face next. Bring it on!
ps Those on the coach I was on will have witnessed the one figured salute as we passed the Boot Room pub from a Castleford fan who was well over 50 with a bald head! What a sad, sad Man!