Big debate about strength in depth on the message boards over the
past few days, and I know it's only pre season, but tonight
Warrington had three of their first 21 squad numbers absent, whilst
Wigan in comparison had twice as many of their first 21 (well 20
because 18 is unallocated) absent. Yet we didn't look any weaker
for having lost three more key players.
Anyway, tonight was an excellent all round performance by Wigan.
We soaked up a lot of pressure from Warrington but our defence was
immense. Think Warrington were a bit clueless as well mind you in
all of that but clearly our high standards set last season showed
no sign of dropping.
In attack I think we showed signs of rust with ball in hand, but
our pack was looking good. Big wraps to Jeff Lima and Lee Mossop
from me. I'm not the best for analysing individual performances but
Lima was looking all class. Early on Adrian Morley (I think it was
him - might have been Louis Anderson)) tried to boom him with a big shoulder but just bounced
straight off him. Lima didn't budge an inch! He was beasting it all
night and the Wigan fans have found their next fan favourite! Mossop came on to prop
on 24 minutes for Lima and didn't look out of place in my eyes. Add
in the very solid Ryan Hoffman and Liam Farrell and our pack is
looking so much stronger than the start of last season.
Game started pretty even. First error was from Paul
Deacon but that looked like it was due to injury. He came off
moments later on 5 minutes to be replaced by Sam Tomkins. Deacon
did return. I think it was just a heavy knock more than anything.
Sam didn't take long to make his first mark on the
2011 season. Twenty metres out a Warrington pass went to ground and
just two minutes after coming on, Sam just scooped up, said thank
you very much, and touched down under the sticks. He then converted
his own try to make it 6-0.
After that it was Warrington doing most of the asking.
Two penalties helped them get a full set in Wigan's 20 but our
defence held firm. Moments later Warrington score. Good kick is put
in, and well collected, but it's a Wigan cheer - Phil Bentham calls
the scorer offside!
Wigan then had a chance of their own after forcing a
drop out but the ball soon went to ground, letting Warrington off
the hook. Soon after Warrington bombed a great chance by knocking
on over the line.
On 24 minutes Lima went off to be replaced by Mossop
and Wigan scored again soon after. Liam Farrell claimed it. He
stepped out of some poor Wire tackling to easily touch down. Deacon
was back on the field and he converted to make it 12-0.
After that Warrington had three more sets on the Wigan
line. One such effort saw memories of last season come flooding
back. David Solomona was trying to score in the left corner but
knocked on a bugs dick from the try line. Happy, happy memories of
him doing that last season. :)
The pressure did eventually tell, Wigan just couldn't
survive until half time. Right on the hooter, Lee Briers crashed
over from close range. Hodgson converted to leave the half time
score 12-6 to Wigan.
Wigan put themselves on the back foot straight away
after the break by hitting the kick off straight into touch. I make
it 4 sets they had pressuring the Wigan line but our defence was
outstanding. Joel Monaghan was claiming a try after a neat kick
towards the right corner but referee Phil Bentham ruled a knock on
(or failure to ground the ball). Dogtanian was getting dog barks
every time he touched the ball from the Wigan crowd (in reference
to his dog sex scandal picture). Wire fans may think it's tiresome
but they better get used to it. Every set of fans will be doing the
same and if it was one of our players, you'd be doing it to them!
So Warrington had at least 4 opportunities to score
early second half and failed. Soon enough it would be Wigan to get
a similar spell of territory and they showed them how to score, by
doing it twice.
First on 52 minutes Paul Prescott, a man who has only
ever scored 1 competitive try for Wigan, looked a certain scorer
under the posts but Warrington managed to strip the ball away. Why
does that not count as a penalty try? Anyway, penalty went to Wigan
and straight from it Thomas Leuluai crashed over from close range.
Deacon converted to make it 18-6.
Wigan were on a roll and were beginning to find gaps
in the Wire defence. A good break down field from substitute Josh
Charnley set up good territory and Chris Tuson went over in an
almost carbon copy of the try from Leuluai moments earlier.
Although he was hit very high by Ryan Atkins in the process of
scoring. Didn't stop him scoring but it was a clear foul. Should it
not have been an 8 point try? Deacon converted anyway to make it
From the restart Leuluai knocked on and gave
Warrington a quick chance to get back into the game but again
Wigan's defence was far too good.
The match was now in final quarter and the match
started to die I felt. Warrington twice failed to find touch with
penalties during this period but in between they claimed a try
back.The home crowd seemed like they'd given up the ghost on this
game because they only reacted once Bentham confirmed that Rhys
Williams had touched down in the left corner. Brett Hodgson hit a
sweet touchline conversion to make it 24-12 with 10 minutes to go.
Michael Maguire introduced Logan Tomkins to the fray,
joining brothers Sam and Joel on the field, but he had little time
to make any impact on this contest.
The game petered out but fittingly perhaps, Jon Clarke
claimed a try on his testimonial in the final minute from close
range. Ben Westwood converted to make the final score 24-18 - a
scoreline that I think flatters Warrington. 24-12 would have been
5,757 was an excellent crowd for Jon Clarke, a player
who began his career in Wigan's youth academy and played 28 games
for us between 1997 and 1999. Always a pleasure to see any player
complete 10 years at any club.
For Wigan they will take a lot out of that
performance. Excellent display, especially when you consider Pat
Richards, Martin Gleeson, Brett Finch, Stuart Fielden, Harrison
Hansen, Eamon O'Carroll all missed the match injured. and we also
may even have Gareth Hock to call up later in the year. Very good
signs for us.
Most of all though we look bang on ready for the derby with St Helens in Cardiff,
especially in defence. Warrington kept trying to cut us up out wide but
Goulding and Marsh on the right, and the makeshift pair of Joel
Tomkins and George Carmont on the left, stood up the task with few dramas. Maybe
a couple of soft ones let in late but your bound to be tired at the back
end of games so early in the pre season and Warrington did have two
extra subs to call upon. In the end compare a 24-18 win at Warrington
to a 36-12 "home" loss for Saints against Huddersfield.
Those results just can't help you from really looking forward to
Cardiff! Bring it on!