Match Report: Widnes 37 Wigan 36
Posted by cherryandwhite on March 11 2012 - 18:43
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Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors - Stobart Super League XVII Round 6.
Sunday 11th March 2012. Kick Off 3:00pm at Stobart Stadium.

Match Report

Well, a very angry reaction from Wigan fans in light of this 37-36 loss away to once winless Widnes following Shaun Wanes decision to "rest" Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Sean O'Loughlin, Thomas Leuluai and Liam Farrell

Clearly it backfired. I think the logic was right but he pushed it too far! I was fully in support of him resting Pat and Tommy but adding in Sam and O'Loughlin was too much.

I've said all season that at some point we would need to give the likes of Matty Russell, Joe Mellor and Logan Tomkins a chance because our squad depth is weaker this year, experience wise, with us having lost Paul Deacon, Andy Coley, Joel Tomkins and Ryan Hoffman. People can forget that. That's over, a combined, 1,000 appearances worth of experience we've lost from our squad depth. That is huge! Losing that can only result in a weaker squad.

So we have to blood youth to rebuild that squad depth, in terms of experience up, because their is no substitute for experience, and this is definitely the time of year to do it. You need to learn who's good enough before the crunch end of the season comes. The first five weeks of the season wasn't the time to blood youngsters because it was important for us to lay a platform for the whole year. Ok, disappointing loss to Huddersfield, but we certainly laid a platform and I don't think this result wasted in actually. 

Then look at our fixtures beyond this and next weeks game. We've got Warrington, then quickly Saints/Easter, then you don't know what kind of cup draws we might get, in between an always tricky trip to Hull, then in May we have Huddersfield, Saints and Leeds in a row, then before you know it were in Round 18 and into the crunch end of the season.

Them kids today will take far more out of losing 37-36 than winning 60-10 or whatever. They got to experience a big game atmosphere and big game pressure, that will have been a totally new experience for a lot of them today. You don't get close to that pressure in the academy. Coach Wane will also, I think, have learned a lot more out of that defeat than the romp we all expected to witness.

The biggest disappointment for supporters was that with Saints and Warrington losing earlier in the weekend, we missed an easy opportunity to go top of the table. I don't actually think being top really matters anymore in this top 8 play off system. Don't get me wrong, it would have been nice, but I think we would be far better finish 4th having gone through this process of blooding youngsters and improving squad depth than finishing first and ending up at the fag end of the season a bit knackered with us being forced to play a Matty Russell or Joe Mellor with no experience what so ever.

I'm not saying all of the above is necessarily my opinion. I'm playing a bit of devils advocate and trying to give a balance argument. Like I said, I think his logic was spot on, he just pushed it probably one player to far. If just one of Sam or Tommy been out their today I think we've have won handsomely.

On the match - the changes Wane actually made were to give debuts to Matty Russell (full back), Anthony Gelling (right wing), Joe Mellor (Scrum Half) and Logan Tomkins (bench). Josh Charnley switched from right to left wing and I don't think that really worked to be honest. He also played Chris Tuson at Loose Forward.

First ten minutes, we are laughing into our pies! Two tries quickly on the board. First Gareth Hock crashed over from close range before a good pass from Joe Mellor put Chris Tuson on the breakaway before Harrison Hansen finished off. Josh Charnley on goal kicking duty today had two simple conversions for 12-0 after just 7 minutes.

It looked good but Widnes had barely touched the football in truth and they slowly worked their way into the contest once possession evened out. They eventually scored themselves on 20 minutes but I question whether Shaun Briscoe had knocked on in the build up. He had two or three attempts juggling a pass but with most Wigan fans and players expecting a knock on, it never came from Robert Hicks. He played on and credit Widnes for playing to the whistle. Paddy Flynn touched down and Gareth O'Brien converted for 12-6.

Widnes by now were on top, but it was Wigan who scored their third try next against the run of play. Matty Russell claimed it with some excellent footwork getting him over in the left corner. A touchline conversion from Charnley was well received by the Wigan faithful. He had a massive smile when he came back for the kick off. He was also suffered poor taunts of "Gypo" from Widnes supporters along the touchline following an incident earlier in the match.

So it was 18-6 to Wigan with 10 to go to half time, but the ten minutes up to half time showed why experience matters. This was now a phase of play to keep it calm and defend that lead to the break. But because of the lack of experience in key areas, we never had any calm play at all during the whole afternoon. They were always like a big bunch of giddy kippers.

Widnes got two tries in two attacks on 34 and 36 minutes. First Wigan to Widnes loanee Stefan Marsh scored with good footwork fooling Jack Hughes in defence, before on the restart they carved us right up the gut from half way with ex Warrior Shaun Briscoe finishing off the break. Two conversions for O'Brien left it at 18 all half time and to be honest I think were desperate for the oranges.

Second half started like the first half. Boom, boom, boom three tries and all of a sudden we were 36-18 up. Classy tries as well. Brett Finch was on fire during this spell. He claimed the first with a lovely dummy and run to the line before another bit of magic from him sent Mellor over in the right corner. Then when Matty Russell went over  for his second we all thought, right here we go, but again the fact we'd had all the possession in the ten minutes after half time was a factor in this rebuild of a lead. Also Charnley was beasting it with goal kicking, another touchline conversion was hit for the Mellor try.

So we are 36-18 up with half an hour to play but again this is another phase of play that showed why the experience matters. We needed to calm the game down now but we never did it. It was always 100 mile an hour with no foot being put on the brakes.

I think what will disappoint Wane more than anything is that we contributed a lot to our own downfall. We conceded too quickly after building up an 18 point lead and the way we conceded was nothing short of soft. Two penalties help them up field with Gareth Hock being a very guilty man. But the effort from Lloyd White wasn't much to score from close range. Conversion made it 24-36.

Then the next try on 61 minutes came very unfortunately from a Wigan point of view. Widnes had gone left and accidentally both Darrell Goulding and (I think) Harrison Hansen clashed heads and left each other on the ground. Play went on and with two men short we were struggling to recover the overlap. In fact Goulding lay down sparked out and motionless for a long period whilst play continued further down the field. I still say that was poor because Goulding was being prepared for a stretcher with a neck brace whilst play was going on. Granted play was now far away from the incident but I think their is a duty of care when it comes to the head or neck and I think it was poor taste that play kept going on until Widnes scored.

Now because Goulding was getting treatment, and Hansen had also been shaken up, we just never recovered defensively and they found a Grand Canyon sized overlap to eventually score. Briscoe it was who claimed his second, O'Briens conversion making it 36-30. Then from the restart, Josh Charnley kicked out on the full and they soon made us pay. Frank Winterstein scored it and the conversion tied the scores at 36-36 with 15 to play.

Widnes by now were cock a hoop and giving everything in defence. Finch, who had been class early in this half, was now basically being swamped up in defence and no one else really stood up with the calm play required in this situation.

Despite that though, I was still confident. Even after Widnes had took the lead with a drop goal on 71 minutes, because they were happy with that one point lead and began to shut up shop. They got away with it but in a high scoring game like this, they did it a bit to early I thought.

We nearly made them pay when we got a penalty on 78 minutes. Now it was 40 metres out and at a slight angle. Pretty similar to the Rob Burrow one if you remember the game in which he missed a kick a goal to win at DW Stadium in 2008 when we won them 23-22. It was big pressure on a back up kicker but the way he'd been kicking today, it was probably the right call to go for it. Sadly though the kick was wide and didn't even go dead for a 20 metre drop out, and most crucially a vital minute had been wiped off the clock.

We still had a massive chance after that though, that really should of been taken. A good kick towards the right corner had seen Widnes knock on right on their own try line. So basically, we had a full set on their line with 1:04 remaining on the countdown clock. A perfect situation to nick the win. But today we didn't have enough calm heads for obvious reasons and it showed because we had lost possession within about 10 seconds of that time remaining. Their was still even enough time for us to get the ball back but time had beaten us and Widnes fans had got the win they had massively craved and the Wigan supporters were left angry and frustrated.

I don't think our feelings though should take away from the fact that we had witnessed an excellent game of Rugby League. I'm still worried for Widnes though. They looked fine in attack today but for us to rest what we did and they still went on to concede 36 points speaks volumes. I sadly feel today's result is going to paper over the cracks rather than spark Widnes' season but take nothing away from that sides spirit and effort today. They could have rolled over and died twice in one game but didn't, that is the positive for them to build on!

For Wigan, well I don't think today was as bad as some people are making out. It puts more emphasise on us now having to beat Warrington in two weeks time. I'd rather us beat Warrington and lose to Widnes than hammer Widnes and lose to Warrington. Those youngsters all did fine today really. They will take many lessons out of that I think. Anthony Gelling was a bit quiet though in my view, still doesn't look ready for me. Anyway, we shall see what happens as the season progresses. It's only as the season goes on will we know the true value of Shaun Wane's decision today! I guarantee you, if we go on to beat Warrington, this day will soon be forgotten!

Reaction to the Action

Shaun Wane: "We did not underestimate Widnes. They are a good team and were going to click at some stage. They played well and we didn't. They deserved to win and we did not keep the pressure on. I have learned a lot and am very disappointed with the performance. There were a few debuts because I needed to know about these players. We need to be stronger and better as a group and I was disappointed with our defence. We can defend better than that. Gaz Hock and Michael McIlorum had a real dig but we clocked off defensively."

Widnes coach Denis Betts: "It was one of his simplest kicks of the day but we had a little bit of luck. If I am totally honest I would have probably done the same thing as Shaun. He has a big squad and has to expose the young lads at this level. He took a risk but fortunately we came out with a win. Gareth (O'Brien) is a fantastic player and showed his class and John gave us punch up front. Lloyd (White) has a great future ahead and got in a good position to drop the goal. It's been hard to see the fans suffer but this was a top performance and now we have to try and maintain this high intensity. We all feel better but know wins aren't going to fall into our laps. We have to work hard."

Team Sheets

- Widnes Position Wigan 1
1 Shaun Briscoe Full Back Matthew Russell 27
2 Paddy Flynn Winger Anthony Gelling 24
20 Stefan Marsh Centre Darrell Goulding 3
19 Cameron Phelps Centre Jack Hughes 26
4 Willie Isa Winger Josh Charnley 2
? Gareth O'Brien Stand Off Brett Finch 6
25 Danny Craven Scrum Half Joe Mellor 25
17 Steve Pickersgill Prop Jeff Lima 14
13 Jon Clarke Hooker Mike McIlorum 9
10 Ben Davies Prop Lee Mossop 10
11 Frank Winsterstein 2nd Row Harrison Hansen 11
21 Dave Allen 2nd Row Gareth Hock 12
12 Hep Cahill L.Forward Chris Tuson 17
6 Lloyd White Substitute Epalahame Lauaki 21
15 Simon Finnigan Substitute Ben Flower 23
18 John Kite Substitute Logan Tomkins 28
26 Anthony Mullally Substitute Tom Spencer 32
- Denis Betts Coach Shaun Wane -

Score Sheet

Widnes Vikings 37 --- Wigan Warriors 36
Tries (6):
Paddy Flynn
Stefan Marsh
Shaun Briscoe 2
Lloyd White
Frank Winterstein
--- Tries (6):
Gareth Hock
Harrison Hansen
Matty Russell 2
Brett Finch
Joe Mellor
Gareth O'Brien 6/6
--- Goals:
Josh Charnley 6/7

Scoring and Incident Pattern

4th Minute Widnes 00 Wigan 04 Try: Gareth Hock
- Widnes 00 Wigan 06 Conversion: Josh Charnley (1/1)
7th Minute Widnes 00 Wigan 10 Try: Harrison Hansen
- Widnes 00 Wigan 12 Conversion: Josh Charnley (2/2)
20th Minute Widnes 04 Wigan 12 Try: Paddy Flynn
- Widnes 06 Wigan 12 Conversion: Gareth O'Brien (1/1)
29th Minute Widnes 06 Wigan 16 Try: Matty Russell
- Widnes 06 Wigan 18 Conversion: Josh Charnley (3/3)
34th Minute Widnes 10 Wigan 18 Try: Stefan Marsh
- Widnes 12 Wigan 18 Conversion: Gareth O'Brien (2/2)
36th Minute Widnes 16 Wigan 18 Try: Shaun Briscoe
- Widnes 18 Wigan 18 Conversion: Gareth O'Brien (3/3)
Half Time Widnes Vikings 18 Wigan Warriors 18
45th Minute Widnes 18 Wigan 22 Try: Brett Finch
- Widnes 18 Wigan 24 Conversion: Josh Charnley (4/4)
47th Minute Widnes 18 Wigan 28 Try: Joe Mellor
- Widnes 18 Wigan 30 Conversion: Josh Charnley (5/5)
50th Minute Widnes 18 Wigan 34 Try: Matty Russell (2)
- Widnes 18 Wigan 36 Conversion: Josh Charnley (6/6)
54th Minute Widnes 22 Wigan 36 Try: Lloyd White
- Widnes 24 Wigan 36 Conversion: Gareth O'Brien (4/4)
61st Minute Widnes 29 Wigan 36 Try: Shaun Briscoe (2)
- Widnes 30 Wigan 36 Conversion: Gareth O'Brien (5/5)
64th Minute Widnes 34 Wigan 36 Try: Frank Winsterstein
- Widnes 36 Wigan 36 Conversion: Gareth O'Brien (6/6)
71st Minute Widnes 37 Wigan 36 Drop Goal: Lloyd White
78th Minute Widnes 37 Wigan 36 J.Charnley Missed Penalty Goal (6/7)
Full Time Widnes Vikings 37 Wigan Warriors 36

Video Highlights

Top 5 Wigan Players as voted on our Message Board

Man of the Match: Brett Finch
2nd: Mike McIlorum 3rd: Gareth Hock 4th: Matty Russell 5th: Harrison Hansen


Robert Hicks

Penalties Conceded

Widnes 7 Wigan 9

Match Attendance



Dry. Not too cold.

League Table at Conclusion of Stobart Super League 17 - Round 6

- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 Huddersfield Giants 6 5 0 1 187 100 +87 10
2 Warrington Wolves 6 4 1 1 185 98 +87 9
3 Wigan Warriors 6 4 0 2 208 95 +113 8
4 Leeds Rhinos 5 4 0 1 146 84 +62 8
5 Catalan Dragons 5 4 0 1 148 118 +30 8
6 Hull FC 5 3 1 1 100 78 +22 7
7 Salford City Reds 6 3 0 3 144 154 -10 6
8 Bradford Bulls 6 3 0 3 130 165 -35 6
9 St Helens 6 2 1 3 166 143 +23 5
10 Hull Kingston Rovers 6 2 1 3 144 158 -14 5
11 Wakefield Wildcats 5 1 0 4 84 118 -34 2
12 London Broncos 6 1 0 5 118 196 -78 2
13 Castleford Tigers 6 1 0 5 90 182 -92 2
14 Widnes Vikings 6 1 0 5 91 252 -161 2

Round 6 Results
Fri 9 Mar Leeds Rhinos 26 Warrington Wolves 18 17,120
Fri 9 Mar St Helens 10 Hull FC 22 14,875
Sat 10 Mar Catalan Dragons 40 Salford City Reds 18 8,158
Sat 10 Mar London Broncos 42 Castleford Tigers 16 2,381
Sat 10 Mar Hull Kingston Rovers 24 Bradford Bulls 36 7,486
Sun 11 Mar Widnes Vikings 37 Wigan Warriors 36 7,357
Sun 11 Mar Wakefield Wildcats 14 Huddersfield Giants 32 8,794