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|Sunday 1st May 2011|
|Crusaders 16 Wigan Warriors 48|
|Racecourse Ground, Wrexham|
|Engage Super League 16 - Round 13 of 27|
|Kick Off 3:00pm|
|1||Sam Tomkins||T2||1||Clinton Schifcofske||G2|
|25||Josh Charnley||T2||5||Stuart Reardon||T|
|2||Darrell Goulding||3||Tony Martin|
|4||George Carmont||2||Gareth Thomas||T|
|5||Pat Richards||T||G7||27||Jordan Tansey|
|17||Brett Finch||T||6||Michael Witt||T|
|7||Thomas Leuluai||T||17||Rhys Hanbury|
|10||Andy Coley||10||Mark Bryant|
|9||Michael McIlorum||T||19||Lloyd White|
|21||Lee Mossop||16||Ben Flower|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||11||Hep Cahill|
|22||Liam Farrell||12||Jason Chan|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||G||13||Frank Winterstein|
|6||Paul Deacon||7||Jarrod Sammut|
|14||Paul Prescott||8||Ryan O'Hara|
|15||Jeff Lima||20||Gil Dudson|
|23||Chris Tuson||21||Paul Johnson|
Well this was a pretty routine victory for Wigan, who extended their unbeaten run to four matches whilst also going joint top of the table for the first time this season.
The contest was over by half time with Crusaders really struggling all afternoon until James Child started to show them great sympathy it seemed in the final 25 minutes. Now you can read back at my match reports, which I've been doing on and off since 2002 and regularly since 2006, and it's very rare that I've stuck it to the referee but I'm sorry I thought James Child was very poor today, and I thinking that even before the last 25 minutes. The fact he exited the field to a chorus of "the referee's a wanker" from a set of Wigan supporters that had witnessed their side win 48-16, I would suggest, says an awful lot about his performance.
Speaking of the Wigan following, it was huge again today. 5,037 was the attendance and I reckon 3,500 must have been Wigan fans. We certainly vastly outnumbered the home support.
Coach Michael Maguire was forced to make two changes to the side that won at Wakefield on Easter Monday with Darrell Goulding replacing Joel Tomkins (calf strain) at right centre whilst Chris Tuson replaced Harrison Hansen (minor knee ligament) in the back row. He also chose to stick with starting Brett Finch at Stand Off and using Paul Deacon off the bench.
The pitch was bathed in sunshine but their was a very cold breeze which left fans who hadn't taken a jacket or jumper very cold in the shade in the away stand. But they were warmed up by some excellent tries on the pitch from Wigan.
First try came in the third minute and it was a Pat Richards trademark special. Brett Finch put the bomb up to the right corner and Pat plucked it out of air and somehow kept in play to score. It took some scoring let me tell you and then his conversion off the touchline was given despite being miles wide of the target. It was a perfect angle for me and it clearly missed. Only excuse really is that the touch judges were shielding their eyes from the sun. Anyway you take any luck you get in sport and a 6-0 lead very early on look pretty ominous for the Welsh side.
For the next quarter of an hour or so Wigan kept trying to repeat the tactic of kicking towards Pat Richards but his opposite winger Stuart Reardon was beginning to cope really well with the threat. Crusaders were looking really poor in attack though but defensively they were not really buckling early on, however as the half wore on the gaps did start to appear.
Second Wigan try came on 20 minutes when Sam Tomkins aimed towards the right and sent Josh Charnley racing in the corner from 20 metres out. Pat converted to make it 12-0.
Five minutes later Sam scored himself. He was about 25 metres out and he seemed to be trapped with a wall of defenders in front of him, but he was having a bit of jig and all of a sudden he found a gap which saw him going on an arching run to score right under the posts. Easy conversion made it 18-0.
Another two minutes later, the fourth try came. Paul Prescott provided the pass and Jeff Lima looked so shocked to see a huge hole in front of him that allowed him to break clear from fourty metres out, he drew in full back Clinton Schifcofske, and sent the supporting Thomas Leuluai under the posts. Another easy conversion for Pat made it 24-0 after 27 minutes.
The fifth try came on the stroke of half time. About ten metres out, Sam Tomkins had offloaded to Sean O'Loughlin who in turn sent Finch through a huge hole and he literally had no defenders to beat in scoring under the posts. Another easy kick for Pat sent Wigan into the sheds with a 30-0 lead.
The procession of easy Wigan tries continued just three minutes into the second half when Leuluai sent Charnley breaking towards the right corner, but the defence was so soft he was able to round it off closer to the sticks than it should have been. Still wasn't an easy kick for Pat but he slotted over his sixth conversion of the game to make it 36-0.
I was hoping Wigan would keep the opposition scoreless for the second game in a row but Crusaders finally got on the scoreboard in the 55th minute with a neat try in the left corner from Gareth Thomas, but Schifcofske's kick was wide of the target.
Wigan soon responded on 59 minutes with an excellent try from Mike McIlorum. 25 metres out he got the ball in the middle of the field and just darted through a gap to score near the right corner. Pat's kicking was on fire today as he slotted another over to make it 42-4.
In the final quarter Wigan really started to look tired as James Child was giving Crusaders call after call after call. This allowed Crusaders to claim two more tries in quick succession. First Michael Witt scored then Thomas, who was now showing up on their right, broke from 40 metres out to send Stuart Reardon over but it was a clear knock on for me, if not a forward pass. It was bang in front of us but despite a referee, a touch judge and an in goal judge the try was awarded.
Schifcofske had converted both tries and although the game was dead, with Wigan having a 42-16 lead with 13 minutes to go, Crusaders were now buoyant against the tired defence. Wigan dug deep though to deny them any further scores and got reward for that two minutes from time.
That reward came in the shape of a second try for Sam Tomkins. He was about 60 metres out and was running along the defensive line. All of a sudden he shot through a gap down the left wing and raced all the way to score our eight and final try of the contest.
Pat was still on the field but the final conversion was given to Sean O'Loughlin who was celebrating his 250th Wigan appearance today. Only Kris Radlinski, Andy Farrell, Terry O'Connor and Mick Cassidy have made that many appearances in the summer era so congratulations to him for that. He will get a well deserved testimonial when that comes round either next year or the year after that. Lockers was also raised aloft by the players as they took the congratulations of the Wigan hoards at full time but he just about avoided being given the bumps.
Like I said, towards the back end of the game Wigan looked tired from their Easter exploits and perhaps the Challenge Cup next weekend is a perfect opportunity to rest a couple of players. Don't want to disrespect Barrow but I would love to see Dom Crosby and Joe Mellor for example get a chance next week to show what they have got.
Overall we should be happy with the performances in the last few weeks. With Harlequins and Hull KR to play next, both at home, the rest of May now gives us a real shot of possibly being clear top of the table before June comes round and we launch into a difficult run of games against Catalan, Castleford, St Helens, Huddersfield, Leeds and Castleford again in a midweek. For now I will happily settle for us being joint top of the table whilst still having that game in hand.
Super League 16 - Round 13 Results
|Fri 29 Apr||Castleford Tigers 6 Leeds Rhinos 48||9,860|
|Sat 30 Apr||Catalan Dragons 13 Huddersfield Giants 12||7,825|
|Sat 30 Apr||Harlequins 16 Salford City Reds 34||1,957|
|Sun 1 May||Bradford Bulls 14 Warrington Wolves 58||14,134|
|Sun 1 May||Crusaders 16 Wigan Warriors 48||5,037|
|Sun 1 May||Wakefield Wildcats 26 Hull Kingston Rovers 24||7,283|
|Mon 2 May||Hull FC 24 St Helens 24||11,933|
Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
|9||Salford City Reds||13||5||0||8||292||422||-130||10|
|12||Hull Kingston Rovers||13||4||0||9||311||374||-63||8|
*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.