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|Friday 1st July 2011|
|Wigan Warriors 26 Leeds Rhinos 24|
|DW Stadium, Wigan|
|Engage Super League 16 - Round 20 of 27|
Kick Off 8:00pm
|1||Sam Tomkins||1||Brent Webb||T|
|25||Josh Charnley||T||27||Zak Hardaker||T2|
|12||Joel Tomkins||2||Lee Smith|
|4||George Carmont||T||12||Carl Ablett|
|5||Pat Richards||T||G5||23||Ben Jones-Bishop||T|
|17||Brett Finch||13||Kevin Sinfield||G4|
|6||Paul Deacon||6||Danny McGuire|
|15||Jeff Lima||8||Kylie Leuluai|
|7||Thomas Leuluai||9||Danny Buderus|
|21||Lee Mossop||10||Jamie Peacock|
|11||Harrison Hansen||11||Jamie Jones-Buchanan|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||T||3||Brett Delaney|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||21||Chris Clarkson|
|9||Michael McIlorum||7||Rob Burrow|
|10||Andy Coley||14||Ali Lauitiiti|
|14||Paul Prescott||16||Ryan Bailey|
|23||Chris Tuson||17||Ian Kirke|
Oof! That was a tight one wasn't it! Leeds really tried to niggle Wigan out of this win but without really ever getting into a rhythm, we still somehow managed to claim the victory. Bit of luck for sure, Pat's try on 41 minutes was a mile forward, but I'll take that. I would have been devastated had we wasted an opportunity to go top on Wednesday with defeat here.
It wasn't pretty all from Wigan. In fact you could easily argue that we won the game simply in a five minute spell at the beginning of the second half when we upped the pace and scored two tries. But after two massive efforts against St Helens and Huddersfield, it was always going to prove hard to peak for a third week in a row, especially with Leeds being so determined.
The only important fact is that we've claimed 6 points from 6 and I would have been over the moon with that going into that run of games. I've been saying for weeks that all that was required was to be in a position were our game in hand can take us top and that's exactly what we've achieved. Of course we still have to win on Wednesday yet, and also back up again next Saturday, but if we can get past those two games we should finish first with no excuses this year - our run in is very favourable.
Anyway this game, you know in the NRL how they have two referee's instead of one? I'm not really convinced they have made much of a difference but I think they should have a second ref when Thierry Alibert is in charge. A translation referee if you will, so he can explain what the bloody hell this guy is on about. I know referee's are an easy target but this guy seems to be on a five second delay before he reaches a decision. A one point he called "play on" for Leeds after Wigan had knocked the ball on twice back at least 20 metres! He was definitely out of his depth in this game and as someone said to me at the game - "does he get the tv games because he clearly needs the video help?".
Right from the kick off it clear that Leeds were here for a big effort. They tried to slow Wigan down as much as they could and this was highlighted with Jamie Peacock conceding the games first penalty after just 10 seconds.
The first score of the contest came in just the fourth minute. Danny McGuire had collected a terrible last tackle kick from Sean O'Loughlin to race from his own 20 to our 20. McGuire was lacking pace but Brett Finch did brilliantly to cut him off. Kudos to Finch as well for the attempted ball strip. It didn't pay off but that was clever thinking. It resulted in a scrum and soon after a penalty was conceded by Lee Mossop for holding down and Sinfield nailed an easy two pointer.
So we are four minutes in and he's penalised both sides already for holding down. But then after that, he let's most of it go. This resulted in the match becoming bogged down in midfield until another mistake from Peacock, this time a knock on, put Leeds on the back foot. They survived a set when Finch's bomb was ruled diffused in goal by Ben Jones-Bishop, despite the fact Kevin Sinfield clearly took Pat Richards out off the ball. Taking Pat out was a clear tactic from Leeds all game and to be honest it's a clever tactic because I seriously think that's the only way you can stop him. Where the hell Alibert got diffused from was amazing as well. Jones-Bishop clearly. looking at the replay, had jumped from the field of play and only landed with one foot in the in goal.
Wigan though took their second chance after Brent Webb was penalised for dissenting a clear forward pass he threw to Peacock. Wigan punished down the right with Joel Tomkins manhandling McGuire out the way before offloading to send Josh Charnley in for a simple score. Pat converted to make it 6-2 after 14 minutes.
Leeds however hit straight back with their first try of the game. Ryan Hoffman was penalised for incorrect play the ball and a good last tackle grubber from Webb saw Jones-Bishop get the ball down. Sinfield then converted from wide to make it 8-6 to Leeds.
The game again went back to a midfield battle until Wigan conceded a rare clean break whilst the defensive line was set. This was on 25 minutes, a great pass from Sinfield got Jones-Bishop racing down the right wing. His pass inside to Lee Smith saw Sam Tomkins catch him but he was forced into conceding a penalty. Perhaps lucky to avoid the sin bin there Sam but it didn't matter because Leeds scored soon after with Webb crashing over. Sinfield converted again to make it 14-6 to the Rhinos.
Wigan were struggling a bit in truth but on 33 minutes we proved again that we don't have to rely on penalties or errors to claim a try. We took a 20 metre restart all the way up the field and a last tackle bomb from Finch saw Pat bat the ball backwards for Ryan Hoffman to score from. Again Pat was blatantly obstructed, this time by McGuire, but that still didn't stop him reaching the ball up high. His conversion was successful leaving the score at 14-12 to Leeds.
Now towards half time I was thinking that we hadn't done that well in the first half and I was more than happy to be close on the scoreboard until Leeds claimed another score just before the hooter. They took advantage of an impact in the tackle knock on from Charnley. It was then on his wing that Zak Hardaker squeezed in for a try two minutes before the break. I do worry about our defence on the right from Josh and Joel. I think that's our massive weak spot and have mentioned before how it seems to be the one position were our solid line of defence bends. I am surprised teams haven't targeted it more often in recent weeks. Sinfield though missed the touchline conversion and it was go on to prove a crucial miss.
So Leeds had an 18-12 lead at the break but Wigan stepped up the gas massively at the start of the second half with two scores in 5 minutes giving them the lead.
Pat hit the kick off high, they let it bounce, and Hoffman collected the loose ball. It was an error that would cost Leeds the game really. 48 seconds later, Pat was sent in the left corner by Carmont. Ok it was ten mile forward but it's Wigan are just cleverly taking advantage of the seemingly blind touch judges the RFL are employing these days. Pat converted to make it 18-18.
No luck in the next try, this was all class. Carmont broke down the left and was showing good pace against Jones-Bishop who is 11 years his junior. It was actually Sinfield who got across to stop him but a couple of plays later Finch nailed a perfect pass to send Hoffman through a gap and he sent Carmont over for the score which came a day after his 33rd Birthday! Pat converted and all of a sudden it was 24-18 to Wigan.
The game settled down again after that early rally and as time wore on it became apparent that the next try was massive. The clock had ticked along to 62 minutes when Wigan wasted no time in taking the two after Leeds were caught offside. Some shouts for us to go for the try but I think you should always turn a 6 point lead into an 8 point lead if your within the last 20 minutes. It was an automatic call for me. It was 32 metres out but Pat nailed it from bang in front to make it 26-18.
In the end that goal won us the contest but not without a lot of sweat being shed by Wigan fans in the final 15 minutes. Leeds never gave up and they sensed victory when Hardaker claimed his second try on 70 minutes. Leeds took advantage of a knock on from Joel Tomkins and another good grubber, from McGuire, saw Hardaker score. Sinfield hit the conversion to make it 26-24.
Whilst I was confident Leeds wouldn't score from deep, I think they always looked the more likely to score if another try was to come, and it almost did in the 75th minute. Attacking our right side defence they were keeping the ball alive on the last tackle and it ended up in the hands of McGuire. They'd done us twice already with kicks and it looked like he'd done it again when he'd hacked forward and touched down himself. But replay's seemed to show the ball had hit the ground before he'd kicked it and that is a knock on. I think it was clear but in truth I was expecting "TRY - Benefit of the doubt" to flash up. Luckily for us Video Referee Steve Ganson chalked it off.
After that Wigan saw the last five minutes out reasonably comfortably. Except for an incident right on full time. Leeds conceded a penalty and with the clock expired it seemed a simple option to take an easy penalty goal. Coach Michael Maguire was certainly screaming it but for some reason Sam Tomkins took the tap, which resulted in another penalty for offside and a handbag brawl. Now Sam is a wonderful player but I think that is garbage. Why do that? Just take the two and get out of there! The result of the second penalty was just kicked into touch. Madness! Very unlikely to happen but if we end up losing out on a vital league position by 2 points difference...... not good at all! Bit of inexperience their I think.
Anyway, job done. Bring on Wednesday! Due to the quick turnaround of games their will be no match previews for either game later this week but keep with the site for match reports on both the Cas and Harlequins games, plus I'll be reporting from, and updating on twitter, from the Nines Final's night on Tuesday.
Super League 16 - Round 20 Results
|Fri 1 July||Castleford Tigers 18 Warrington Wolves 48||5,947|
|Fri 1 July||Salford City Reds 26 Harlequins 18||3,065|
|Fri 1 July||St Helens 28 Hull FC 14||7,053|
|Fri 1 July||Wigan Warriors 26 Leeds Rhinos 24||16,426|
|Sat 2 July||Bradford Bulls 28 Catalan Dragons 34||12,670|
|Sun 3 July||Huddersfield Giants 40 Crusaders 12||4,892|
|Sun 3 July||Hull Kingston Rovers 70 Wakefield Wildcats 14||8,025|
Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
|9||Salford City Reds||20||9||0||11||430||561||-131||18|
|10||Hull Kingston Rovers||20||8||0||12||514||546||-32||16|
*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.