Ominously for the rest of Super
League, I don't think Bradford were that poor today but Wigan just
hounded them into submission. When they attacked our line we
defended brilliantly then when it was our turn to attack we just
clinically picked them off. I'm pretty sure glancing through the
record books that this was Wigan's best ever victory over Bradford
at Odsal Stadium. It's never been an easy ground for us, but today
was pretty convincing.
I remember someone on twitter (can't
remember who) last week saying we should put Sam Tomkins in at
stand off because he get's more involved. Well today proved why
Full Back is his better position. He sits off the offensive line
biding his time then before the defence knows it, bang he's up at
them, then he's out stepped them to break clear, and Wigan are just
brilliant these days at supporting the break both right and left.
Sam was doing this all afternoon. An classy display from him today,
man of the match by a country mile.
I think also a big improvement so far
this year is our last tackle kicking. It was good at Cardiff last
weekend and same again today. Early on in this match we were in an
arm wrestle but on a couple of occasions we settled for playing the
territory game with simple kicks into touch. Might seem negative
but we lost a few tight games at the back end of last season and I
think poor last tackle options was the main reason for those
defeats. One such kick to touch today was done by Mike McIlorum. It
was a last tackle and he just pinned a neat kick which hit the
touchline just before the corner flag. Soon after our defence
created an error. Simple stuff, but it works!
Another pleasing aspect was the
returns of both Stuart Fielden and Amos Roberts. A fan asked me on
twitter was Amos back to his form at the start of last season. I'd
say no because a lot of the time he fed off the brilliance of Sam
Tomkins rather than created his own tries but he should have
claimed a hatrick with an amazing bombed effort. Fielden for me was
the more impressive return of the two. Considering he hadn't played
pre season I thought it was an excellent shift from him today,
particular his first hit out in the opening twenty minutes. Really
looking forward to seeing him and Jeff Lima on the park together.
Fear's about the pitch being a mud
bath, after snow had hit West Yorkshire yesterday, proved to be
unfounded. The surface was in excellent nick considering the time
of year. It was bitterly cold on the terraces though. A sharp wind
blew into our faces. It wasn't strong but you certainly felt it.
The match kicked off and it took just
15 seconds for Phil Bentham to award Bradford the first penalty of
the game and they scored from it, right under the posts after a big
bomb in the air. Touch judge was standing his ground though and
after consolation, Bentham disallowed the try for offside.
Both sides were exchanging kicks into
touch early on, with very few attacking chances until Wigan broke
the deadlock in the 11th minute. Going left George Carmont sent
Amos Roberts over for his first try since scoring at Wakefield last
June. Roberts has always been a right winger when playing wide in
his Wigan career but today he was on the left and didn't look out
of place on the left alongside Carmont. In truth. a player with no
arms would score bag fulls playing alongside Carmont. He's been
excellent again so far this year. Paul Deacon, back at his old
stomping ground, couldn't convert off the touchline though - 4-0
Michael Maguire showed his
ruthlessness by dropping Joel Tomkins to the bench after his
display against Saints. A few Wigan fans on the message board felt
that Joel was off the mark last week and it seems that Maguire
agreed. However I would have expected Liam Farrell to get the call
up to start but it was Harrison Hansen instead and he repaid the
faith with his second try of the year on the next attack.
Moments before that try Wigan broke
down the left. Sam Tomkins found Carmont who found Roberts but
amazingly he bombed in. Rather than aiming for the corner he
decided to come inside. Should have been four points all the way
but luckily it didn't matter. Last week, Hansen took advantage of
an error created by a towering kick and he repeated it here. Deacon
put the bomb up and Chev Walker flapped in the in goal. Harrison
pounced for the score and Deacon's fairly easy conversion made it
10-0 after quarter of an hour.
It was now all Wigan and Sean
O'Loughlin looked like he'd burst through to claim another but
Bentham brought him back for a forward pass. On the half hour
though, Thomas Leuluai would burst from a similar position up the
middle and finish a brilliant individual effort. He danced round
two defenders before beating full back Brett Kearney on his way to
the line. The conversion from Deacon stretched the lead to 16-0.
Time was now ticking towards half time
but Wigan kept the pressure on the throat of the Bulls with two
more tries, both created by Sam Tomkins. First the little magician
broke to send Liam Farrell powering over, then with ten seconds
left on the official clock he found Farrell again but this time the
ginger pearl sent Darrell
Goulding over for a simple try in the right corner. Deacon
converted the first but missed the second to leave the half time
Now then, I won't have been the only
Wigan fan to recall last year's slump from 20-0 up to 22-20 defeat
and for a good ten to fifteen minutes at the start of the second
half it looked pretty ominous that Bradford were on the comeback
They almost scored from their own kick off. The
ball hit the post and was somehow gathered by Bradford, a charge at
the line went in but Wigan just about held them out. A couple of
penalties and also a couple of errors, helped them to put in a
sustained four minutes of pressure on our line and the pressure
eventually told with a try from Elliott Whitehead from a grubber
kick. Patrick Ah Van converted to make it 26-6.
In truth Wigan were flapping a bit at this
point, Bradford had come out much better in the second half. But
Wigan were a bugs dick away from hitting straight back. Leuluai
snaffled up a loose ball thirty metres out and looked a certain try
scorer but he was hauled down inches short and eventually the
territory went to waste. That would have settled my stomach down no
end, but the the mental haunting from last year's collapse refused
to go away from my head.
Bradford really need a quick second try but
Wigan's defence held them out until the 56th minute when Patrick Ah
Van scored from another bomb in the right corner. Nice take from
Paul Sykes' kick but he couldn't convert, so 26-10 was now the
Sadly for Ah Van, it was his error that allowed
Wigan to close out this game. Four minutes after his try, a bomb
was put up towards the Wigan left and Ah Van dropped it. Seconds
later, Roberts was sent in for his second. Lovely Wigan passing was
too quick for the Bulls defence to handle. Deacon hit a neat
conversion as well to make it 32-10 with 19 minutes to go.
That try killed Bradford off and Wigan closed
the game out with relative ease. After last week's late collapse
against St Helens I think coach Maguire will be pleased that Wigan
managed to get two more tries in the last four minutes.
Both came down the left again. First quick hands
saw Carmont go over, nice step on the inside helping him over, then
Sam Tomkins claimed a deserved try in a similar position. Deacon
converted both to make the final score 44-10.
All in all a good afternoon's work out ahead of
next week's World Club Challenge. Many pundits predicted the game
next week would prove a distraction but so far this year I've seen
a Wigan side looking well drilled and being really clinical in
attack. Forwards are doing the work first, second and third tackle
then we find gaps out wide. Deacon had a pretty good afternoon
kicking as well. It shows our strength in depth because Pat
Richards hasn't really been missed so far this year. Personally I
think it'll be brilliant if Pat get's fit and can't even find a way
back into the team. We shall see if it happens!
ps I just remembered. I went for hot drink for me and "Gladys" at
half time. Got two hot chocolates and what a waste of money that
turned out to be. It was more like half a cup of hot chocolate
powder (way too much!) with a drizzle of lukewarm water. "Gladys"
went somewhere else for two teas but they were not hot either, only
warm! Very poor, I'll stick to beer next time (was too cold
for it today!).