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|Bank Holiday Monday 30th May 2011|
|Wigan Warriors 40 Hull Kingston Rovers 6|
|DW Stadium, Wigan|
|Engage Super League 16 - Round 15 of 27|
Kick Off 6:30pm
|1||Sam Tomkins||T3||1||Shaun Briscoe|
|25||Josh Charnley||2||Peter Fox|
|12||Joel Tomkins||3||Kris Welham||T|
|4||George Carmont||T||4||Jake Webster|
|5||Pat Richards||T3||G6||28||Ben Cockayne|
|6||Paul Deacon||6||Blake Green|
|17||Brett Finch||7||Michael Dobson||G|
|10||Andy Coley||20||Michael Vella|
|7||Thomas Leuluai||18||Josh Hodgson|
|21||Lee Mossop||15||Scott Wheeldon|
|11||Harrison Hansen||8||Rhys Lovegrove|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||12||Ben Galea|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||13||Scott Murrell|
|9||Michael McIlorum||9||Ben Fisher|
|14||Paul Prescott||10||Joel Clinton|
|15||Jeff Lima||16||Jason Netherton|
|23||Chris Tuson||17||Matt Cook|
Despite still not hitting anywhere near top gear, Wigan saw off Hull KR to ensure a sixth consecutive league victory that took them back joint top of the table.
I'm sure their are many differing opinions on that run of victories but in truth we've played 10th, 4th, 13th, 14th, 12th and then 10th again. Apart from the match against 4th place (St Helens), we should have expected to win all those games, and we did win them all without ever going beyond the effort required to win those games.
Next month is when we really need to hit our straps and I thought at the back end of this game we saw signs of quality that will hopefully become more consistent throughout the 80 minutes next month. I mean we will now embark on a run of games that will see us play 7th, 6th (on a test match weekend), 4th, 3rd, 5th and our game in hand against 6th on a midweek. It's a tough run of games that will tell us a lot about how the back end of this season is going to pan out. If I was the coach I'd be setting them the target next month of getting clear top of the table before the game in hand.
Speaking of the coach, Michael Maguire shuffled his pack after a slow performance in the cup at Bradford. Harrison Hansen returned, after missing the last four games, in place of Liam Farrell. A bigger change though was to start both Paul Deacon and Brett Finch in the halves with Thomas Leuluai going to Hooker and Mike McIlorum to the bench.
I thought that switch worked really well because Wigan started on fire in the first ten minutes or so. Brett Finch though, for me, it still isn't flowing for him. On occasions he shows his class but other times he seemed to be hitting dummy runners with passes when he should have been missing them. For me it remains still very much a mixed bag from him.
I know "@gcunning12" on twitter is always on at me about us getting Sam Tomkins back into the halves, and earlier in the season when we had a struggle period I was agreeing, but I still think that when Paul Deacon is fit, Sam is a better option at Full Back. His hatrick tonight made it 11 tries in his last 6 matches, In fairness though he's been on fire against the poorer teams, let's see if he can step up to the mark against better sides next month!
Pat Richards also continues to show his class as well. After he also completed a hatrick tonight, he surpassed a century of league points scored in just 7 league matches. Top points scorer in Super League (Brett Hodgson) is only on 187 points, from twice as many matches, so I'm wondering Pat can really finish top regular season points scorer again for what would be the fifth year in a row? He'll have to stay fit and score a fair few more hatricks I reckon but he is only 77 points short. If he could do that having missed the first 7 matches in the season it would be an unbelievable achievement.
Onto the match itself. Hull KR had first possession in this game but once Wigan got the ball it took them just 43 seconds to get over the white wash. Thomas Leuluai, Paul Deacon and Brett Finch combined to get Sam Tomkins breaking down the left wing. He had both Richards and George Carmont in simple support but instead he greedily kept hold of the ball. It look like Blake Green would stop him short but his spinning in the tackle momentum just about carried him over the line. Pat converted for a 6-0 lead.
Rovers got a sniff of something when Ryan Hoffman knocked on the restart but it soon continued to be all Wigan in the early stages and that was rewarded with the second try in the 10th minute. Finch and Carmont combined to get Pat over for an easy score in the left corner. Then he converted off the touchline to make it 12-0.
So at this point I'm thinking, come on let's kick on, but it never happened again. It wasn't a lack of effort but I think the fact our last tackle option remains poor was letting Rovers off the hook. Off memory I can't recall us getting too many repeat sets and I think it's something that will have to improve on to retain the title this year because I don't think we'll get away with poor last tackle options like we did last year.
Hull KR though were struggling to get any forward momentum. My memory of the night will be a superb shoulder on shoulder shot from Leuluai, after about 20 or so minutes, that left Joel Clinton struggling to get up off his arse. Big massive prop forward running at ya? He loves the challenge Leuluai and despite being relatively small in comparison, he proper hammered him! Clinton soon left the field and I don't think he returned?
The first real test of Wigan's defence came in the 24th minute when Rovers embarked on a 5 sets in a row attack on our try line. The territory came after a scrum penalty against Wigan on half way. Rovers peppered our line for five full minutes but couldn't find a way through and the home faithful rewarded that effort with a well deserved round of applause.
Eventually though, Rovers did get over the try line for what turned out to be their only score of the match. It came on 36 minutes. Nice kick from Blake Green was collected by Ben Cockayne and he found support from Super League's joint top try scorer Kris Welham on the inside. Jpsh Charnley was trying his best to knock the ball out before he could ground but after video referee reflection he was shown to have scored, Dobson converted for 12-6.
I think that score flattered Hull KR. Wigan had been in far more control that that but whilst Pat Richards second try, right on the half time hooter, was perhaps controversial, it wasn't an injustice to Rovers effort. It made the score a fairer reflection.
When Sam Tomkins collected the ball, in his own half, only 36 seconds remained before the break but Wigan had scored in similar time at the beginning of the game. Very patient build up. Three drives then an offload from Joel Tomkins to get Harrison Hansen away put Rovers on the back foot. Wigan got the play the ball away, out on the right and with just 4 seconds to go, and then went left with Finch putting in a perfectly weighted kick for Pat to chase and score from. Now it is debatable whether he grounded the ball but my opinion on that remains simple. Replay the decision at full speed! No need for this slow motion frame by frame nonsense which can make a split second look like a life time. I defy anyone to rule out that try when witnessing it at full speed! At slow speed it look like Pat had momentarily knocked on.
Anyway the try was given but Pat couldn't convert off the touchline. Like I said though, 16-6 was far more a better reflection on that half of rugby than 12-6 would have been.
Now in a couple of recent games against Hull KR, Wigan had built up good first half leads which had then seen Rovers quickly come back early in the second half. It happened late last year at Craven Park. 16-0 up, quickly became 18-16 down just 10 minutes after the restart. They still lost anyway but it shows that Rovers do respond to half time dressing downs from Justin Morgan and I think Wigan realised this. I think they thought, right, forget the attack for the next 15 minutes or so, let's concentrate on the defence and they seemed to do that. We saw very little Wigan attack early in the second half but once we got a proper attack on the Rovers line, we got over for the score.
It was 18 minutes in coming but credit Charnley for setting up the territory. He fended off soft tackling from Kris Welham, then stepped back inside to get on the break away. He'd done so much damage that Shaun Briscoe was forced to concede a holding down penalty on half way.
That put Wigan inside the Rovers 20 metre area and Sam Tomkins did the rest. He was attacking down the left but, after throwing the dummy, he switched back inside towards the posts. Rhys Lovegrove, Ben Fisher, Josh Hodgson and Michael Vella all struggled to lay a finger on him as his footwork got him under the sticks. Easy Pat conversion for 22-6.
From that moment the game was won and for once, Wigan kept on the gas in the final quarter to finish off the performance with some classy tries.
Next try came on 67 minutes. Joel Tomkins' forward looking pass was not seen by the touch judge (they should really be sponsored by RNIB the amount of forward passes they keep missing) and thus Charnley was away again. Not a clear break but a nice fend off puts Welham on his arse and this creates space for an offload back to Joel who continues down the right. Five metres out he is forced to take the tackle from Briscoe but a quick play the ball see's Sam screaming for it up the middle. He get's the ball and dances over for his hatrick try close to the posts. Easy conversion then for Pat which made it 28-6.
Would you believe that's the first Wigan hatrick this season. We've had 14 instances of players scoring twice but never three times. But like someone tweeted at me it was like the local bus service when a second quickly followed four minutes later.
This came after George Carmont brilliantly collected a last tackle bomb from Dobson. Carmont may turn 33 next month but he still mugged last defender Briscoe, who is five years his junior, with his footwork. Sadly he couldn't complete an 80 metre break but Pat was in support to complete the last 20 of those metres and score under the posts. Another easy kick made it 34-6.
Carmont deserved a try for that effort and got one with three minutes to go. Lovely combination between Sam and Joel got the latter on the break away and Carmont was in support to finish a try that is the 50th of his Wigan career, a feat achieved in just 110 matches. Pat's conversion completed the scoring and a 40-6 win.
So that was an excellent last 20 minutes from Wigan but in finishing this report I have to mention the epic fail from Paul Prescott. On 71 minutes he had broke through a pathetic tackle attempt from Fisher and all he needed to do was to send either of supporting Leuluai or Sean O'Loughlin over the line but instead he passed to a worm in the grass! What a shocker! Eamon O'Carroll commentating for Wish FM said he will get stick for that but I say........Precky...............go to your room!
Super League 16 - Round 15 Results
|Fri 27 May||Leeds Rhinos 6 Warrington Wolves 42||17,276|
|Fri 27 May||St Helens 28 Crusaders 12||6,752|
|Sun 29 May||Hull FC 20 Huddersfield Giants 34||11,274|
|Sun 29 May||Bradford Bulls 28 Salford City Reds 14||12,487|
|Sun 29 May||Castleford Tigers 56 Harlequins 24||7,072|
|Sun 29 May||Wakefield Wildcats 22 Catalan Dragons 42||4,561|
|Mon 30 May||Wigan Warriors 40 Hull Kingston Rovers 6||14,779|
Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
|10||Hull Kingston Rovers||15||5||0||10||363||432||-69||10|
|11||Salford City Reds||15||5||0||10||322||482||-160||10|
*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.