Match Report: Wigan 25 Harlequins 6
Posted by Bilko on June 10 2007 - 12:37
Had a few connection problems which is the reason for the delay in this report.

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Wigan Warriors v Harlequins. Canergie Challenge Cup Quarter Final.
Friday 8th June 2007. Kick Off 8:00pm at JJB Stadium.

Thoughts on the Match

There were a few mixed opinions after this one in the bars. Some were saying that we were quite poor in winning. Not for me.

I thought this was an excellent display. I said in the preview that you have to grind out against these men and that's what we did. It wasn't a night for ripping them apart with blinding skill, it was simple taking your opportunities when they came.

Having played them twice in a row I'll say this. We had to work damn hard for that win on Friday. It wasn't gifted with poor discipline and the likes. Ok there was a red card but we were 18-6 up and in my opinion comfortable at the time. A two score lead was a big lead in this kind of game even before the red.

The week before at the Stoop however, Quins didn't have to work half as hard to win and that disappoints me. Also again we should our week to week inconsistency which continues to annoy.

But you have to look at the bigger picture and in 12 months we've gone from bottom of the table by far to one game away from a return to Wembley. I don't particularly care who we get in the draw. We can beat any of them on our day, even Saints. One advantage we'd have is that the league is not our priority unlike Saints and Bradford. The cup this year is more important. We also play Bradford, Leeds and St Helens in the three matches prior to the semi finals which could put us in good stead confidence wise.

Lest we forget Brian Noble always gets his sides peaking at the back end of the season. If that happens again like last year here at Wigan, we have set ourselves up in a great position to pounce.

Story of the Match

Wigan started excellently by establishing an 8-0 lead inside 6 minutes. First on 3 minutes a penalty goal was slotted by Pat Richards after Quins were penalised for incorrect play the ball. Two minutes later we scored the first try of the game. Sean O'Loughlin broke clear down the middle and Chris Ashton was doing what all good full backs should do, which is finishing off under the sticks. Easy conversion for Pat, 8-0.

Wigan lost Feka Paleaaesina to injury early in the match and he did not return, which meant Wigan had to soldier on with just two recognised props.

Both sides had plenty of possession but defences were well on to until Wigan went further ahead on 21 minutes. O'Loughlin was again the creator as his grubber was touched down by Richards. Pat failed to convert his own try which left the score at 12-0. Had it been 14-0 I think this would have been enough, even so early in the match. You just knew try scoring opportunities were going to be at a premium but 12-0 kept Quins in it.

30 minutes Wigan brought on young hooker Mike McIlorum for what turned out to be a brilliant debut. No nerves at all. First touch of the ball and he could have been forgiven for just offloading to the first receiver but no, he darted straight at the Quins defence, taking them on as he would continue to do all night for the 38 minutes he was on the field.

There was no further score until half time - Wigan leading 12-0 at the break.

As always first try of the second half was important and it was Quins that got it. Wigan completely cocked up the kick off by allowing the ball to bounce. This allowed Quins to nail Richards into touch. After a drop out Mark McLinden and Julien Rinaldi combined to send Steven Bannister over for the try. Bannister had signed for Quins from St Helens earlier in the week and was on debut. Paul Sykes converted, 12-6 and game on.

But crucially Wigan hit straight back. Phil Bailey showed rare attacking promise with a break down the right which was finished off by Mark Calderwood. If our centres broke more often Calderwood would be an awesome player but he is stifled in this team. Richards conversion made it 18-6.

You felt that a drop goal now was enough to win and it did come but not until the 75th minute.

Before then Quins were reduced to 12 when Jon Wells was guilty of a poor high tackle on sub Darrell Goulding. Not a swinging arm but a forearm smash to the face. Definite Red!

Quins kept on fighting but Wigan held firm. Barrett kicked a drop after failing twice earlier in the match and then in the final minute Sean O'Loughlin scored to put the cherry on top of the cake. Richards conversion made the final score 25-6.

Game Breaking Moment

You knew that if Wigan got a drop goal second half it was game over so Trent Barrett's 1 pointer ended the contest. But perhaps the key moment was re-establishing our 12 point lead so soon after it had been halved to six! Sending off helped as well.

Top Player

Sean O'Loughlin - Created the early try scoring action and capped his performance with the last try.

Reaction to the Action

Brian Noble: "It was the right response (after losing 18-8 to Quins away 6 days earlier). I thought we were really clinical around the ruck area that we weren't last week. I was pleased with the way we responded. It was tough tonight. It wasn't flash or flamboyant, but sometimes you have to grind it out. Our pack aimed up this week. We've matched our counterparts, who are very big and very tough themselves. (Mike McIlorum) did great for a debut in the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup. He jumped in at the last second because Millard got a bang in practice. He's a good player."

Harlequins coach Brian McDermott: "It was a very brave performance - and it's not the first time we've done that this season. There was some tough performances across the board from numbers 1 to 17. Everybody stepped up and I am very proud. It was tough, 12-6 looks a hell of a lot better - and was probably a truer reflection of the game."

Team Sheets

- Wigan Position Harlequins -
1 Chris Ashton Full Back Chris Melling 16
2 Mark Calderwood Winger Jon Wells 2
3 Phil Bailey Centre Paul Sykes 3
14 David Vaealiki Centre Tyrone Smith 4
5 Pat Richards Winger Andy Smith 24
6 Trent Barrett Stand Off Danny Orr 7
7 Thomas Leuluai Scrum Half Mark McLinden 1
8 Stuart Fielden Prop Karl Temata 8
9 Mick Higham Hooker Chad Randall 9
10 Iafeta Paleaaesina Prop David Mills 15
11 Gareth Hock 2nd Row Matt Gafa 18
12 Bryan Fletcher 2nd Row Lee Hopkins 12
13 Sean O'Loughlin L.Forward Henry Paul 23
- - - - -
18 Paul Prescott Substitute Julien Rinaldi 14
19 Harrison Hansen Substitute Louis
McCarthy-Scarsbrook
17
20 Darrell Goulding Substitute Michael Worricy 22
25 Mike McIllorum (D) Substitute Steven Bannister 30

Score Sheet

Wigan Warriors 25 - Harlequins 06
Tries (4):
Chris Ashton
Pat Richards
Mark Calderwood
Sean O'Loughlin
- Tries (1):
Steven Bannister
Goals:
Pat Richards 4/5
- Goals:
Paul Sykes 1/1
Drop Goals:
Trent Barrett 1
- -

Scoring and Incident Pattern

3rd Minute Wigan 02 Harlequins 00 Penalty Goal: Pat Richards (1/1)
5th Minute Wigan 06 Harlequins 00 Try: Chris Ashton
- Wigan 08 Harlequins 00 Conversion: Pat Richards (2/2)
21st Minute Wigan 12 Harlequins 00 Try: Pat Richards
- Wigan 12 Harlequins 00 P.Richards Missed Conversion (2/3)
Half Time Wigan Warriors 12 Harlequins 00
43rd Minute Wigan 12 Harlequins 04 Try: Steven Bannister
- Wigan 12 Harlequins 06 Conversion: Paul Sykes (1/1)
47th Minute Wigan 16 Harlequins 06 Try: Mark Calderwood
- Wigan 18 Harlequins 06 Conversion: Pat Richards (3/4)
54th Minute Harlequins Sent Off Jon Wells (Forearm High Shot)
75th Minute Wigan 19 Harlequins 06 Drop Goal: Trent Barrett
79th Minute Wigan 23 Harlequins 06 Try: Sean O'Loughlin
- Wigan 25 Harlequins 06 Conversion: Pat Richards (4/5)
Full Time Wigan Warriors 25 Harlequins 06

Referee

Ben Thaler (Wakefield)

Match Attendance

10,835

Match Weather

Warm Sunny Night.