It was a pretty decent at Orrell this morning but Wigan
always struggled against the Leeds pack. One of the big
things at this particular level is experience often counts
and it showed today. Both Leeds starting props were second
year lads whilst Wigan's two props were starting their
first competitive match for us. That's a huge difference at
particular early on in the season, and visibly the Leeds
pack looked bigger and more aggressive because of that.
Overall, Wigan had nine new recruits making their Under
18s debut today and thus it was bound to be rusty
performance. Although the final score looks bad, I don't
think it is a fair reflection of the game. Leeds definitely
deserved the win but Wigan were not that poor.
Wigan really should have scored first very early on in
the contest. Tom Halsall was chiming at the line towards
the right corner and although he looked like he dived
enough to avoid the corner flag, he knocked on over the
Leeds then took the lead themselves. Lovely break up the
middle, from about 60 metres out, by prop Dan Smith and he
swung it wide to send the supporting Alex Foster over.
Conversion missed but Leeds left 4-0.
The second try for Leeds was a very weird one. Now you
can either big up the luck of it or slag Wigan off for
switching off. It was right in front of me in the right
corner. Last tackle grubber from Wigan looked all the world
like it was going dead, thus the Wigan players switched off
thinking it's a twenty restart. Somehow it held up and
James Duckworth picked it up, evaded a Wigan defender and
managed to chalk the side line until support came from
Marcus Elliott. He had the pace to score and round off
under the posts, which made an easy conversion for Dan
Smith to make it 10-0.
Moments later a third try came. Wigan knock on deep in
their own half and Ryan Smith capalitised with a score in
the left corner. Nice conversion from Smith made it 16-0.
So before Wigan knew it, two deep breaks and an error
left them way behind on the scoreboard. The actual arm
wrestle was pretty even and Wigan did get back into the
game soon after on 21 minutes. Leeds error this time near
their own line, then Wigan forced a drop out from which
hooker Liam Carberry showed great strength to score from
close range under the posts. Tom Hurst converted to make it
For the next ten minutes or so, Wigan had a really good
spell and a try would have made it game on. But despite
best efforts, Leeds goal line defence was excellent. Then a
massive kick in the teeth came on 36 minutes with a fourth
Good bomb was put up but, unfortunately for Wigan, full
back Tom Hurst wasn't set. He was trying to catch the ball
with his back to the action, couldn't take it in, and it
bounced ever so kindly for Elliott to claim his second near
the posts. Easy conversion for Dan Smith again to make it
22-6 and that was really a killer try. Wigan had chances to
get in for 16-12 and now it was 22-6. Just a bit more
clinical were Leeds.
Wigan managed to do themselves in again six minutes
after the restart. They had forced Leeds into a drop out
but sloppy play let Leeds dribble it ten metres and
regather. From which, they put another bomb in up the other
end, it was let to bounce and bounce very kindly it did for
Henry Mingham to score. Smith's conversion made it 28-6. I
try not to be biased in these reports but 28-6 was not the
game I was watching. Leeds front row was definitely bigger
and stronger than ours but they weren't running over the
top of us that often. The Rhinos were just sharper in
defence I suppose and the attack was feeding off that.
Wigan's spirit was always there and although it was a
long time in coming, Carberry claimed his second try on 65
minutes with a Déjà vu
effort from his first try. He barged over from close range
under the posts. I remain adamant that as an out and out
hooker, I'm seeing more from Carberry than Logan Tomkins. I
think really Logan should be sent on dual-reg into the
Championship because Carberry for me should be an Under 20s
regular. Since Joe Mellor returned though he's dropped back
down, for now. Hurst's conversion made it 28-12.
Still the effort was being put in by Wigan but a
comeback was never really on. Leeds defence was strong and
with tiredness kicking in they claimed a good cherry on the
top of the cake try in the 78th Minute. They broke through
and Mo Agoro finished off under the posts. Amazingly, from
bang in front, Marcus Elliott's conversion hit the post,
leaving the final score 32-12.
Now reading that you'll have noticed the several Leeds
breaks. I suppose that's my frustration today because every
time Leeds broke, they scored. They didn't break that often
in reality but they definitely deserved the win. With a
pack on top they just had a bit more to feed off than us.
Our lads will get a lot out of that though. It was a good
early season battle but it doesn't get any easier, Saints
away for the Under 18s next Saturday.