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|Friday 7th February 2014|
|Wigan Warriors 8 Huddersfield Giants 24|
|DW Stadium, Wigan|
|First Utility Super League 19 - Round 1 of 27|
Kick Off 8:00pm
|1||Matty Bowen||1||Scott Grix||T|
|32||Joe Burgess||T||2||Jermaine McGillvary||T3|
|3||Darrell Goulding||3||Leroy Cudjoe|
|23||Dan Sarginson||4||Joe Wardle|
|4||Iain Thornley||T||5||Aaron Murphy|
|6||Blake Green||6||Danny Brough||G2|
|7||Matty Smith||7||Luke Robinson|
|8||Scott Taylor||8||Eorl Crabtree|
|19||Sam Powell||9||Shaun Lunt|
|12||Liam Farrell||11||Brett Ferres||T|
|24||Tony Clubb||15||Larne Patrick|
|10||Ben Flower||13||Chris Bailey|
|9||Michael McIlorum||10||Craig Kopczak|
|14||Jack Hughes||14||Michael Lawrence|
|16||Gil Dudson||17||Ukuma Ta'ai|
|17||Dom Crosby||18||Kyle Wood|
After a good pre season, I must admit I was confident of a good start to the season here but Wigan began the defence of their title with a flat display against Huddersfield.
Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise. Wigan have now only won 2 of their last 9 home openers and Huddersfield have won 6 of their last 7 visits to DW Stadium.
This performance unravelled pre match with first Sean O'Loughlin withdrawing from the originally announced starting line up then Mike McIlorum pulling up injured as well. Both had tweaked ham-strings but I suspect with a World Club Challenge on the horizon we were erring on the cautious side.
That disruption meant Ben Flower switched to loose forward and Eddy Pettybourne started instead of being on the bench. That was a switch that, for me, left us too weak on the bench.
McIlorum was clearly lame and whilst I appreciate Jack Hughes will do a job for us at times, I'm not convinced by him as a regular. Not the kind of impact that we require off the interchange. I thought Pettybourne was quite disappointing also, having impressed in the friendly at St Helens.
The other problem for Wigan was attacking flow. It was a pretty unsettled back five and they didn't find any rhythm compared to Huddersfield, who had 15 of 17 players who were regulars for them last season.
It was the right result in the end BUT at 12-8 Wigan had a big opportunity and it was so disappointing that we conceded within two minutes of getting back to within one try. Clever though Huddersfield at that kick off. They noticed McIlorum had come on, kicked into the area of the field he was defending and caught him very cold on the short kick off.
Soon as they got 18-8, the game was dusted. They lifted from that and saw out the game comfortably.
Wigan had too many players lacking intensity and perhaps that is understandable with the side making the long trip to New Zealand less than 24 hours after the final whistle.
Shaun Wane is correct to point out that we had a similar defeat to Huddersfield two weeks before Wembley last season, so we could well click into gear for the World Club Challenge but we'll need to play a hell of a lot better than this.
Matty Smith needs to find some variation in his kicking game also. His tactic was to bomb the sometimes dodgy Aaron Murphy all night but Murphy was dealing with it all. He needed to realise that the plan wasn't working and change it. The one time he kicked elsewhere, Jermaine McGillvary knocked on and we scored off it.
Wigan did have some minor positives. Thought Dan Sarginson had a great second half. Never gave up on that result. Defence on that side he and Iain Thornley defended though was a big concern. Thought Joe Burgess took his try superbly.
All in all though, this was the right result. I know Wigan can play far better and given our natural poor starts at home, it isn't a big concern for me. Huddersfield did the basics better on the night and were more clinical in attack. I just except that the World Club Challenge is bound to be a distraction, especially given its away in Australia. Players don't want to get injured and if your 10% off your game mentality, a good team like Huddersfield will punish.....and they did!
First Utility Super League 19 - Round 1 Results
|Fri 7 Feb||Wigan Warriors 8 Huddersfield Giants 24||16,240|
|Thu 13 Feb||Warrington Wolves 8 St Helens 38||13,157|
|Fri 14 Feb||Hull FC 36 Catalan Dragons 34||11,400|
|Sun 16 Feb||Bradford Bulls 18 Castleford Tigers 36||8,214|
|Sun 16 Feb||Hull Kingston Rovers 6 Leeds Rhinos 34||11,526|
|Sun 16 Feb||Salford Red Devils 18 Wakefield Wildcats 14||7,102|
|Sun 16 Feb||Widnes Vikings 64 London Broncos 10||5,327|
First Utility Super League 19 Table - After This Round
|6||Salford Red Devils||1||1||0||0||18||14||+4||2|
|12||Hull Kingston Rovers||1||0||0||1||6||34||-28||0|
Top 8 Qualify for the Play Offs / Bottom Two Relegated