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|Saturday 14th July 2012|
|Leeds Rhinos 39 Wigan Warriors 28|
|Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield|
|Carnegie Challenge Cup Semi Final|
Kick Off 5:30pm
|1||Sam Tomkins||G4||4||Zak Hardaker||T2|
|2||Josh Charnley||T||2||Ben Jones-Bishop||T2|
|3||Darrell Goulding||3||Kallum Watkins|
|4||George Carmont||T||12||Carl Ablett|
|24||Anthony Gelling||5||Ryan Hall||T2|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||T||13||Kevin Sinfield||G5||DG|
|6||Brett Finch||6||Danny McGuire|
|14||Jeff Lima||8||Kylie Leuluai|
|9||Michael McIlorum||7||Rob Burrow|
|10||Lee Mossop||10||Jamie Peacock|
|11||Harrison Hansen||11||Jamie Jones-Buchanan|
|12||Gareth Hock||T||15||Brett Delaney|
|17||Chris Tuson||16||Ryan Bailey||T|
|16||Liam Farrell||17||Ian Kirke|
|21||Epalahame Lauaki||20||Darrell Griffin|
|23||Ben Flower||T||25||Stevie Ward|
|26||Jack Hughes||31||Shaun Lunt|
Simple reason why Wigan lost this contest for me. Beyond any of your refereeing arguments, or whatever, the difference was that Leeds came onto that pitch knowing this was a big match. We came on the pitch as if it was a normal regular season round. That's disappointing!
The mental preparation was clearly way off. We just weren't switched on. Making garbage errors both in attack and defence that pretty much gifted them 16-0 and then 30-12 leads.
Don't get me wrong, that's not to suggest Leeds didn't deserve what they got. They were excellent all match really. Very clinical in punishing those errors and Kevin Sinfield's last tackle kicks were text book throughout the first half.
On the positive side, we scored some fantastic tries in attack and the fact we still ran this result so close leaves me with confidence for a Grand Final push because I'm convinced we won't turn up that slowly again. They will learn from this! Matty Smith will also hopefully provide that extra pivot that was missing at times and if we can get both Pat Richards and Tommy Leuluai back on the paddock and firing also then we should be ok. Time will tell.
Over the whole 80 minutes of this one though, no one can complain Leeds didn't deserve the win. However, as I often write in these reports, the first try of the second half is often vital and even more so in this game. The difference between 36-20 and possibly 30-26 was huge, and to concede that, to a blatantly clear knock on, is most galling of all. Had we got back to 30-26 I think we'd of won, and that's the only resentment I have over this result.
Leeds got off to blistering start, building up a 16-0 lead in just 11 minutes. First score was on 4 minutes. Lot of panning of Sam Tomkins for his defending of a bomb from Sinfield but credit the kick. I wish we could produce bombs like that! Sam couldn't take it in and it was a gift score for Ryan Hall in the left corner. Sinfield converted for 6-0.
You can only condemn Sam though for letting a 40/20 bounce out when he had an opportunity to pick up the ball. He had nothing to lose in trying to pick it up, so why didn't he at least try? That for me summed up our slow mentality at the start of this game. Leeds got the scrum and scored again with Ben Jones-Bishop over in the right corner. Sinfield missed the kick, only 10-0.
Then on 11 minutes came a third score. Poor error from Wigan bringing the ball out of the attack and then Leeds punish quickly with Zak Hardaker going under the posts before our defence could recover. Clear forward pass in the build up went missed but I'd rather take issue with Wigan's error to be honest. Three scores and all down to our own sloppiness for me. Easy conversion made it 16-0.
Leeds had another set on our line on 15 minutes but a brilliant one on one tackle from Darrell Goulding on Jamie Jones-Buchanan relieved that pressure. At this point, Wigan made changes with Ben Flower, Liam Farrell and Eric Lauaki coming on to replace Jeff Lima, Chris Tuson and Lee Mossop, and off the back of that, Wigan finally got a foothold in the game with two tries in two minutes.
First try was from a scrum move. Mike McIlorum's pass got George Carmont over, via a missed tackle from Jones-Buchanan. Easy conversion from Sam Tomkins made it 16-6. Then two minutes later a brilliant try from Gareth Hock. Lovely passing got Hock away from 60 metres out and he went all the way for the score. I actually thought he was very greedy in not passing to support but, luckily for him, full back Hardaker failed to stop him. Sam converted again for 16-12.
However, having got a foothold in the contest, to give that away again was so poor. Third tackle on the restart, O'Loughlin knocks on and less than a minute later Leeds score again with Hall claiming his second. Conversion missed - 20-12.
Are we going to gift Leeds any more easy territory? Yes we are. 29th minute. This again summed Wigan's first half up. McIlorum picks up the play the ball and throws a pass as if he was blindfolded. A truly shocking pass to no one that summed up his performance. Another minute later and Leeds were in for their fifth score with Ryan Bailey reaching out from close range. Harrison Hansen and Sam Tomkins were on him but McIlorum was too lazy in getting involved for me. If he'd of got in there as a third man, Bailey couldn't of got an arm out to score. Conversion booted for 26-12.
From the restart, Leeds got their sixth try. This try wasn't so much from our own gift territory. Rob Burrow darted from dummy half and his footwork left McIlorum and O'Loughlin on their arses. Wigan managed to recover but Leeds eventually forced a drop out. From that a last tackle kick from Sinfield was caught in the right corner by Jones-Bishop for his second try. Conversion missed, but it was now 30-12.
Wigan had been blitzed, but somehow we got back to 30-20 before half time. First a Liam Farrell break was finished off by Ben Flower who flukely hacked on a shocking pass from Faz. Again I love the pearl and his breaks but his passing is appalling and he needs to sharpen that up for the crucial end to the season. Flower did well to score under the sticks and Sam had an easy conversion for 30-18. Then a penalty goal was added for a penalty after the clock had expired for 30-20 at half time.
I think every other side in Super League would have been done and dusted by half time playing like that, but here we were well in the game and still in contention for Wembley. Like I said though, the first try after the restart was crucial and it went to Leeds despite a blatant knock on. Hardaker finished it but McGuire blatantly knocked on in the build up. The fact he pulled up on the break told you that. But referee Ben Thaler and touch judges Barry Chuckle and James Child all sadly missed it. Sinfield converted for 36-20.
I'm a firm believer though that you earn your luck. We got a clear forward pass in last year's cup final and Leeds got away with this one. They earned that I think by just doing the basics far better than Wigan. They completed sets, didn't concede penalties and kicked brilliantly on the last. Those three things combined meant this was a long road back now for Wigan.
To our credit, we never gave up but Leeds by now we're giving everything to stop us in defence. We did claim two consolation scored that kept them sweating all the way. First Sean O'Loughlin completed a nice chip kick from Sam Tomkins on 58 Minutes but the missed conversion meant the score was only 36-24.
Sinfield cleverly added a drop goal five minutes later to re-establish a two score lead and by the time Charnley went over on 74 minutes it was too late for Wigan. A late penalty from Sinfield finished the scoring at Leeds 39 Wigan 28.
So all in all I think we just have to accept that this was Leeds day, they were deserved winners. Every little bit went for them but, like I said, I think they earned the luck by doing basics better than us and being mentally at it from the start. I'm quite pleased though how we still ran them close whilst scored some excellent tries. That's because I am convinced we won't turn out like that again. Remember in 2010 we got knocked out the cup by Leeds then went on to win the League Leaders Shield and Grand Final - I'm hoping this is a good omen for a repeat!
2012 Challenge Cup Semi Finals
Sunday 15th July 2012
2012 Challenge Cup Final