Well I'm writing this report 48 hours after our
game finished and what a difference that time span makes. 65th
Minute on Friday we were 22-4 down, had played really poorly and
faced the likelihood of being five points behind Warrington in the
table. I know it's early in the year but I think that would have
been a hell of a gap to chase down.
Since then we
claimed a dramatic draw and Warrington have let us off the biggest
hook imaginable by failing to see off Catalan Dragons at home. Two
point gap with a game in hand, favourable fixtures to come in the
next couple of months, makes the garden far rosier. It's all about
laying down a marker now when the French come to us on Friday, but
more of that in the match preview for that one.
Back to Leeds and when you analyse the match again on replay, we
started well and finished well but in the middle of the game we
seemed to lack belief and composure after Leeds claimed back to
It was the worst possible start from
Wigan after Thomas Leuluai knocked on at the kick off but we
survived that early pressure on our line. Soon after three
interference penalties in a row helped us put pressure on Leeds,
only for Wigan to waste it with an offload from George Carmont
being knocked on by Sam Tomkins in the left corner.
On 9 minutes, Wigan had another great chance. Leuluai took
advantage of a Leeds player falling on his arse, broke clear from
his own forty to the Leeds thirty but Harrison Hansen ended up
knocking on his offload under pressure from Rob Burrow.
Wigan were well on top and got a deserved opening score in the 12th
minute. A bad missed tackle from Weller Hauraki allowed Leuluai to
break again and he showed great composure to commit three defenders
before offloading to send Joel Tomkins over in the right corner.
Sam Tomkins couldn't convert but 4-0 was definitely a deserved
From the restart of that try, Wigan had
another glorious chance. From his own thirty metre line, Mike
McIlorum ran from dummy half, broke through a missed tackle by Ryan
Bailey, before being chased down at the opposition twenty. He lost
the ball in the tackle but Sam Tomkins scooped up with referee
Richard Silverwood calling "back to one" but on reaching the last
tackle, McIlorum went from glory to failure with him being
penalised for an incorrect play the ball.
had three big breaks in the opening quarter of an hour but only one
try. Had we made it 10-0, or maybe even 14 or 16-0, we could have
realistically been in for a big night but once Leeds managed to
convert to tries in quick succession, the match totally flipped.
The belief sagged out of Wigan and Leeds grew in confidence.
The first Leeds try should see George Carmont being sent to a
darkened room for a while when the players review this game. He's
thirty from his own line and he throws a stupid offload towards
Darrell Goulding, in which he had no chance of taking in, the pass
going to Kevin Sinfield instead. A mere 42 seconds later, Leeds
were over to take the lead and Wigan's good start was completely
wasted. Jamie Jones-Buchanan claimed it with a close range reach
over. Sinfield converted to make it 6-4 to Leeds.
To make Carmont feel worse, Leeds scored again from the restart.
Hitting the left wing, a lovely pass from Brent Webb sent Ryan Hall
clear, with Sam Tomkins coming accross Hall cleverly kicked inside
and Buderus dribbled it over the line to touch down. Sinfield
converted and four minutes after Carmont's stupid offload, Leeds
now had a 12-4 lead after 21 minutes. The game had turned
completely on it's head and to be honest Leeds kept total control
for the next 45 minutes of the contest.
point, Brett Finch came on and didn't really lift Wigan, it has to
be said. Leeds could have claimed a third try on 27 minutes when
Kevin Sinfield touched down in the right corner but fortunately
Jones-Buchanan was deemed offside by the video ref.
The game kind of drifted into half time but just before the break
Leeds went over again, this time in the left corner. Ryan Hall
claimed the try but Ryan Hall had definitely knocked on in the
process. In the end I think 12-4 was a fortunate score for Wigan
had half time but how quickly people forget that Wigan had also
blown chances in the first quarter of an hour.
Wigan needed a strong start to the second half but Leeds kicked two
penalty goals either side of a 46th minute yellow card to Jeff
Lima. He was sin binned for poor tackle technique. He seemingly hit
a players knee whilst in the process of being tackle. Now
personally I don't have a problem with that. I actually think he'll
get a 1 game ban for it but I think if you start penalising and
banning players for that then your making steps towards soccer, a
sport in which tackling is pretty much outlawed this days. Yes of
course their is a potential for injury but surely that is part of
the contract of playing a sport, particularly Rugby League. Now if
he, or any player, had done that five times or so then you have
words and punish him for it but for just one bad error of
judgement, I think a sin bin is harsh and I'd say that if it had
been the other way round. It just annoys me when I see bad high
tackles go not only unpunished on the field but by the disciplinary
as well. Let's see if they ban him though. I don't think they
should for one bad offence but I bet they do!
two penalty goals had made it 16-4 and although Wigan were huffing,
they were unable to make too many inroads with 12 men. Having
survived that period though pretty well in defence, it was a
massive pisser to concede a fourth try soon after Lima returned.
It came after a last tackle bomb from Sinfield
forced Sam Tomkins to knock on ten metres from his own line. From
the scrum, Brent Webb soon scored. He took advantage of a missed
tackle by Leauluai and Sinfield converted to make it 22-4. Soft,
soft goal line defence.
I think it is fair to say
that under Brian Noble we'd probably have collapsed in the final
quarter of a match to a 36-4 kind of loss. You cannot fault this
current side though for never giving up. We needed a player to step
up and provide a spark and it came from, in my opinion, the best
youngster we have at Wigan.
That player is the
Ginger Pearl, Liam Farrell. I know most fans will be going, what
about Sam, with me saying that but I have never not enjoyed
watching Farrell play either first team in the academy. I think he
is Mr Consistent, I can't recall him too often, not just having an
odd bad game but making many mistakes either. Maybe I'm blind lol
but for me he has an absolute heart of a lion and can also make a
break, or support a break, when they happen. I think we really
missed Farrell in the Warrington game.
Anyway this spark of his. If you've still got it
on Sky+, watch it back. Watch the jinking step of his, that's what
got him clear, it completely fooled Buderus, Paul McShane and Ryan
Cross. He hadn't the pace to go 70 metres but the damage had
already been done. He was caught 30 out, quick play the ball and
pass to Sam Tomkins and he showed his absolutely class to score. He
realised that full back Webb had been drawn forward to half Farrell
and thus wasn't in position. He just chipped over the Leeds
defenders, raced to the ball and scored near the sticks. Easy
conversion for him made it 22-10.
next set was wasted with a garbage last tackle kick from Finch,
Wigan got another chance on 72 minutes after Cross knocked on, on
the half way line. A minute later Wigan were in the right corner.
Sean O'Loughlin's favourite move is the long cut out pass to the
left winger and just like he did it for Josh Charnley against Hull
FC, he did it for Goulding here. This was no gift for Goulding
though, he did superb to touch it down. He had to reach high, then
crouch low, whilst avoiding the touchline, under pressure from
Kallum Watkins. Great effort. We needed the conversion but Sam
couldn't kick it off the sideline and although six minutes still
remained, I don't think anyone either at the ground on, or watching
on tv, thought we could get anything of the game now.
But Wigan just kept going. Four minutes remained now and the ball
was swung right. My boy, Farrell made the half break again (he was
now playing centre after Roberts had switched to full back, Joel
had gone to the right wing for Sam to go in at stand off and
Leuluai for McIlorum at hooker) and sent Joel Tomkins racing down
the right wing. Webb was coming across to half him and so Joel
cleverly hacked on to towards the try line. Webb managed to
scramble back at the expense of a drop out.
Inside three minutes now and Wigan still kept going. That man
Farrell again forced Leeds into holding onto him too long. Penalty
near the line and from that Paul Prescott barged over under the
posts to claim his first try since September 2007 at Hull KR. That
his only Wigan try, 78 appearances ago, and he actually only scored
that one because the referee had taken out a full back that would
have got a chance to stop him. Well done Preky! I can finally take
him off being the cold streaks section in my match previews.
Sam converted from in front of the sticks which meant Wigan trailed
by two points, but by the time the game restarted Wigan were 80
metres away from scoring with 65 seconds left. It got to the fourth
tackle and 35 seconds left with Wigan only reaching half way. But a
long pass from Finch helped open Leeds up. It took out five
defenders and created an overlap for Sam Tomkins to send brother
Joel racing down the right. A miracle try looked on but Keith
Senior just managed to stop him short. Joel offloaded to Farrell
but he was held just short. In fact held too long. Silverwood gave
a penalty and with the clock pretty much expired, Wigan had one
option and that was a shot at goal to level the game.
It was near the touchline and come on, admit it, you had no faith
that Sam would kick it as well didn't you? But kick it he did and
Wigan had robbed Leeds blind with a 22-22 draw. Lucky I suppose but
top sides do get all the luck and long may it continue for Wigan.
It is up to us now to use that as a launch pad to get our season
going and make hay with our easier fixtures in the next two months.