Wigan showed all their title class with a brick
wall of a defensive display to see off Huddersfield despite the
absences of Sam Tomkins, Martin Gleeson, Pat Richards, Paul Deacon,
Stuart Fielden, Joel Tomkins, Brett Finch and Eamon O'Carroll. Not
many expected a Wigan win but like I keep arguing on the message
boards, we have Super League's best squad by far and it was proven
again in this victory.
Wigan got off to a perfect start with a try in
the 3rd minute. I think it was imperative that Wigan scored first
and after Jamie Simpson had been penalised for interference on Sean
O'Loughlin, a kick to the left from Thomas Leuluai was well
collected by Josh Charnley, he threw the ball back to O'Loughlin
who eased over the line. Not the easiest conversion for Charnley,
kicking goals tonight after apparently winning a competition held
during training, but he converted sweetly to make it 6-0.
That try won me £15 on the coach in the first/last try competition,
although I didn't realise it at the time. It paid for my post match
After that initial try, the game settled down
into a midfield battle. Huddersfield had a big chance on 15 minutes
when Leroy Cudjoe broke down the right but his pass inside to
Simpson on the wing was badly timed and Wigan got back to hammer
him into touch.
Four minutes later it was Wigan's turn to break
down the right. Darrell Goulding got away and hacked inside towards
the posts. Amos Roberts was clear through, haring after the ball,
but the ball just went dead before he could touch it down.
It was around that time that Huddersfield
introduced Eorl Crabtree and Luke Robinson off the bench. At this
point I think the home side began to get on top and it was a case
of hanging in their for a while.
Joe Wardle almost scored on 21 minutes but two
minutes later Huddersfield managed to score. Danny Brough put a
bomb up to which Amos Roberts completely flapped. Bit of an excuse
because he didn't know whether it was going to hit the post but the
ball bounced and ended up falling kindly for Luke Robinson to score
near the posts. Brough converted to make it 6-6.
The Giants were now getting a roll on and Brough
was sensing Roberts confidence had been shot. He put another bomb
up on 25 minutes but although Amos allowed the ball to bounce
again, poor chase meant he was able to recover. Seconds after that
we saw the sight of Ryan Hoffman limping off and it looked pretty
bad to be honest, like his night was over, but he would return in
the second half.
Half Time was about 13 minutes away and
Huddersfield could have scored a couple in this period of the game
but our never say die attitude in defence somehow managed to keep
them at bay.
On the half hour, a kick from Brough to the
right wing was almost collected by Cudjoe but Charnley just did
enough to stop a certain try. It was at the expense of a knock on
scrum but the Giants wasted their extra set with Cudjoe providing
One of the reasons Wigan were on the back foot a
lot was that our last tackle remained predictable more often than
not. Bombs went up but they were so simple for defenders to
collect. Then on 33 minutes Brough showed us how to create pressure
with a bomb again . He put one up, Roberts again was nowhere but
although Brough himself touched down, a slight knock on from Luke
O'Donnell saw it chalked off by the video referee. A bit of luck
but we were earning it again.
With five minutes to half time, Brough bombed
towards Roberts again but this time he caught it and was giving a
massive sarcastic cheer from the Wigan fans. I don't really like
that personally (it's not going to help his confidence is it?) but
you could understand it the way he had played.
It happens often in Rugby League that great
defensive stands end up rewarded at the other end of the field.
Having held firm during a good 15 minutes of pressure from the
Giants, Wigan got one chance up the other end and took it. Kevin
Brown was penalised for interference and this gifted an easy
penalty goal for Charnley to make it 8-6 and that took us into half
time with a slender lead.
Talk at half time was all about Roberts display
at Full Back. It was as if he was a Thunderbird puppet and someone
wasn't pulling his arm strings at the right moment. My opinion
though was that the second half was all about keeping Huddersfield
in touching distance.
Even better for Wigan was to start the second
half like they did the first. They scored after just 160 seconds at
the start of the game and the second half saw them take just 1
second more to repeat that dose. Beauty of a try as well.
O'Loughlin put a neat chip over the top to the left corner and
Charnley came from nowhere to beat Simpson to the ball. His kick
off the touchline was wide but a 12-6 lead gave Wigan a big chance
to win the game.
Must say though I didn't really expect Wigan to
win the match by defending that lead for almost 30 minutes but
that's exactly what they did.
The continuous waves of pressure began with a
kick down the right on 48 minutes that looked perfectly weighted
for Simpson to collect but Charnley again somehow managed to beat
him to the ball. Then two minutes later three penalties in quick
succession helped the Giants pile all over the try line and Simpson
managed to get over in the right corner. Wigan's defence had just
stopped and the video referee replays showed why, he had knocked on
slightly before collecting the ball. NO TRY was flashed up and
Wigan got away with that one. Again, a bit of luck but like I said
our defence was earning it!
A rare Wigan opportunity up the other end on 53
minutes saw Amos Roberts sent over by Thomas Leuluai but the try
was chalked off for obstruction by Harrison Hansen. These
obstructions continue to frustrate fans of all clubs because they
will occur in non TV games and go unpunished. My view on that one
was that Leuluai didn't run round the back of the supposed
obstruction so wasn't that just a poor read by the Giants defender?
That was a massive call and it kept the pressure
on Wigan. The waves of attacks from Huddersfield continued but
Wigan just kept scrambling and scrambling. On 57 minutes Scott Grix
got over the line but Roberts held him up and another set on the
line was seen off.
The clock ticked past the hour mark and I felt
that a drop goal would be enough for Wigan to win the game. It
would have demoralised the Giants I think but we never really got
opportunities to do so.
More Huddersfield pressure came on 61 minutes
after Robinson was awarded a soft penalty with Hoffman being deemed
to have run into him. It put the Giants five metres from our line
with a full set to play with. Wigan continued to scramble and a
good kick to towards the in goal tested Stefan Marsh but he dealt
with it at the expense of an unavoidable drop out. The drop out
meant the pressure continued but David Hodgson decided to revisit
his old "Dodgy" tag with a knock on out right.
The Giants were starting to look a bit clueless
now in attack. They were just not finding any gaps in our defence
and the one tactic they had, to test Amos Roberts, was now proving
hard to achieve because instead of being 40 metres out and aiming
for him stood on his own, they were always on our try line and thus
it was harder to pick him out.
On 65 minutes though a grubber from Brough saw
Roberts trapped in goal and that forced yet another drop out.
Griffin went close charging at the line but Farrell, Hansen and
Hoffman all combined to rock him backwards. They went right but
Charnley and Carmont were having none of it. Then they swung left
but a tame kick was dealt with by Roberts and Wigan had seen off
the pressure again. Outstanding defence! To not crack with so many
inexperienced players was true testament to the work done by coach
Michael Maguire and his staff.
12 minutes to go was still a long time to hang
on but Charnley relieved the pressure with a break down the left.
He hacked inside and although a try was never on, Wigan really
should have trapped Grix in goal, but he managed to scramble out.
A couple of minutes later Huddersfield were back
pressuring the Wigan line after Andy Coley had been penalised for a
forward pass and then a penalty had been conceded. Scrambling
defence was on show again. Roberts and Hansen halted Robinson
a bugs dick from the line. Then Leuluai stopped O'Donnell on the
last tackle to ensure Wigan had survived yet again.
From that turnover, Shaun Lunt conceded a
relieving penalty and Wigan now had perfect territory to aim for a
drop goal that would win the match. They were doing just that but
instead Lunt was penalised again for a stupid flop on Lee Mossop.
Charnley had a pretty easy penalty goal to make it 14-6 and with 6
minutes to go, the game was now won. We knew Huddersfield were
never going to score twice.
In fact Huddersfield never really got another
chance. Wigan saw the game out on the attack and they got a nice
cherry on the cake try in the 78 minutes. Charnley again was at the
heart of it. O'Loughlin and Carmont combined to send him away down
the left and he threw a lovely ball inside to send Hoffman over
near the posts. Questionable forward. I suppose it depends whether
the momentum rule exists or not, if it does then that isn't forward
for me. Charnley converted anyway to make it 20-6 and that was how
The Wigan fans gave the lads a well deserved
cheer at full time. An immense effort that takes us top of the
table till Sunday at least. The only downside was that Joe Mellor
never made it onto the field to make his debut. I could understand
why because O'Loughlin was playing well at Stand Off but after the
penalty goal it would have been nice to have seen him get on for
the final five minutes.
It shows though that yet again Wigan have
prevailed whilst only having three bench players. Nearly every game
we've ended up with an injured player sitting most of the game out
and that too say's a lot about the clubs current endeavour to
succeed. The pack really is stepping up with Hoffman being an
absolute beast in defence. Charnley was my man of the match but the
Hoff was a close second. Big wraps for Prescott and Mossop as well.
Brilliant to think that we've Stuart Fielden and Gareth Hock to add
to this pack later in the season.
It would be awesome if we backed up again with
victory against Warrington next Friday but I'm almost not bothered
what happens next week, the last two performances have kind of
bought a loss if we need it. Hopefully we won't need it though and
can win again to go well clear at the top with that game in hand
still in tact!