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|Thursday 5th February 2015|
|Widnes Vikings 22 Wigan Warriors 22|
|Select Security Stadium, Widnes|
|First Utility Super League 20 - Round 1 of 23|
Kick Off 8:00pm
|1||Matty Bowen||1||Rhys Hanbury||T|
|2||Josh Charnley||5||Patrick Ah Van|
|3||Anthony Gelling||T2||3||Cameron Phelps||T|
|11||Joel Tomkins||T||4||Stefan Marsh||G|
|5||Joe Burgess||T||20||Declan Hulme|
|6||George Williams||6||Kevin Brown|
|7||Matty Smith||G3||7||Joe Mellor||T|
|8||Dom Crosby||8||Eamon O'Carroll|
|26||Logan Tomkins||22||Liam Carberry|
|14||John Bateman||17||Chris Clarkson|
|12||Liam Farrell||12||Danny Tickle||G2|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||13||Hep Cahill|
|16||Sam Powell||10||Manase Manuokafoa|
|17||Tony Clubb||14||Chris Dean||T|
|24||Taulima Tautai||16||Willie Isa|
|25||Larne Patrick||33||Aaron Heremaia|
A draw in the end but it does feel like a loss because Wigan
chucked away all their hard work with a terribly dumb last quarter
of play in this opening match of the season at Widnes.
It's so frustrating because I thought we produced a lot of positive play during the opening hour at least. Expectations weren't exactly soaring after pre season but I thought John Bateman was superb and I couldn't have been more impressed by Taulima Tautai. He went looking for defensive work all the time (29 tackles) and made great metres (8.6 metres per ball carry). Ryan Sutton had a great game also, topping the tackle charts with 37.
This match was full of niggle and I thought for a while this actually worked in Wigan's favour. I think it was tactic of Widnes to niggle Wigan because the first two clearance kicks saw Matty Smith getting a lot of afters.
I thought Wigan rose to that challenge though and began to give Widnes some of that back. The shot from Ryan Sutton on Kevin Brown was right in front of me and quite an immense hit from the 19 year old and whilst you never want to see players get injured from "big hits", their was no foul from Sutton. I think Widnes coach Denis Betts summed it up best when he said after "I don't think (Brown will) throw a dummy to Sutton again".
That hit came after Wigan had taken the lead with their first real attack. It came off a penalty and a poor tackle attempt by Stefan Marsh allowed Joel Tomkins to score in the left corner. Smith couldn't convert, only 4-0.
Wigan began to get on top after that with John Bateman being at the heart of a lot of it. He'd already made one break which sadly saw the ball going to ground before a second break resulted in a try for Anthony Gelling in the right corner after he was sent in by Matty Bowen. Smith nailed a conversion for 10-0.
It was looking like it was falling apart for Widnes with first Kevin Brown going off following that hit from Sutton and then a minute later Ah Van was sent off for a swinging arm that left Josh Charnley out cold and ended his night.
I've seen a few arguments over whether it should of been a red or not but for me I think it the referees' are consistent over red carding swinging arms like that, then that's a good thing, but the consistency on it is the key to the argument. I think their is a duty of care to protect head shots, particularly with players getting stronger and stronger arms with the mass amounts of gym work they do. If a similar shot goes unpunished next week then you can understand an argument to say it wasn't a red card offence. So it'll be interesting to see if consistency follows.
Wigan had to reshuffled with Charnley going off injured and it was Bateman who went to right centre with Gelling moving to the wing. I thought the loss of Bateman in the second row was a shame but three minutes after the red card he got Gelling over with a beautiful jinking step that fooled two defenders. It fooled me as well to be fair because I thought initially he had made a terrible decision not to pass but he move actually proved to be a classy one that created the pace for Gelling to score. Had Bateman not delayed his pass then Gelling would have to battle the touchline as well as the defender, the delay meant he had to battle neither.
So having scored so soon after the red card and now with a 16-0 lead you could only expect Wigan to kick on from here to win easily. But Joe Burgess dropping a good pass cold, for the second time having bombed a try earlier, allowed Joe Mellor to return for a gift try and with Danny Tickle converting, Widnes went into the sheds with hope at 16-6.
Burgess certainly need to do better than that. Coach Shaun Wane pointed out he wasn't impressed by him at St Helens and the two drops he made in that first half were pretty standard passes to take in. It'll be interesting if he keeps his place next week to be honest. A ruthless streak reigns at Wigan and Dom Manfredi is good enough to do a job if standards aren't met.
That hope grew stronger for Widnes early second half when they made it 16-12 six minute after the interval. Lovely grubber from Mellor bounced perfect for Rhys Hanbury to score and an easy conversion made it 16-12.
Wigan needed to reset after starving themselves of ball early in the second half and did so well to get back on the attack. Joel Tomkins had a try chalked off but Joe Burgess scored on 56 minutes to make it 22-12 after Smith converted off the touchline.
At this point Wigan should have controlled the rest of the game but did none of the basics required in doing that. The niggle and scruffy play of earlier still continued when this was now the time to get away from that. Basic set completion was the order of the day but Wigan just capitulated badly.
They had a big opportunity to kill it when Anthony Gelling was wide open on the right wing but Matty Bowen's pass was 10 yards forward. That could have been 26 or 28-12 and Wigan would have gone on to probably get 40.
The way Wigan played late on, the comeback was inevitable. The try though for 22-16 defensively from a Wigan point of view was embarrassing. A huge overlap despite the extra man allowed Cameron Phelps to score, Stefan Marsh missing the extras.
Wigan still had a try advantage but it never even seemed to enter their heads to just plough forward towards drop goal territory. Not getting to last tackles is criminal as well and this just kept giving Widnes hope and they took advantage to score with Manase Manuokafoa going over with three minutes to go. Easy conversion made it 22-22.
After that try, Matty Smith was clearly seen kicking Rhys Hanbury who was celebrating. Now whether Hanbury had said something I don't know but the kick out from Smith summed up Wigan's capitulation for me and the annoying thing is that it's senior players doing it. Liam Farrell was guilty of frustration at St Helens and now Smith here. I doubt he'll escape a ban for that, so will probably be absent against Huddersfield.
In writing this I did note the Sky pundits questioning whether it should be an 8 point try (which offers an extra shot of goal after the conversion). By law they couldn't do that because the incident occurred after the act of scoring the try BUT I actually agree with Stevo and co that the rules should be changed to reflect a foul like that. We couldn't have argued if rules allowed the extra penalty to be given for the kick out by Smith, that would have won the match by Widnes, but current rules don't allow for that.
Anyway the game ended a draw and the last twenty can only be described as a horror show from Wigan. A lot of verbal daggers by fans are being thrown at various players within the Wigan camp for that collapse but if Burgess doesn't drop those two easy passes and Bowen sends Gelling over when he's wide open, we probably win this game by 40 points. So personally I'm not going to get too wound up over it. If this was in a few weeks time then maybe but I think a certain amount of rust was in play to harm us more than anything. I'll wait and see what next week brings and hope to see more of the positives than the negative play. It'll be interesting to watch how it goes.
First Utility Super League 20 - Round 1 Results
|Thu 5 Feb||Widnes Vikings 22 Wigan Warriors 22||9,286|
|Fri 6 Feb||St Helens 18 Catalan Dragons 7||12,008|
|Sat 7 Feb||Warrington Wolves 22 Salford Red Devils 8||11,864|
|Sun 8 Feb||Huddersfield Giants 0 Hull FC 19||7,737|
|Sun 8 Feb||Hull Kingston Rovers 30 Leeds Rhinos 40||11,811|
|Sun 8 Feb||Castleford Tigers 22 Wakefield Wildcats 24||10,728|
First Utility Super League 20 Table - After This Round
Top 8 Qualify for "Super 8s" after Round 23 / Top 4 Qualify for Play Offs
|9||Hull Kingston Rovers||1||0||0||1||30||40||-10||0|
|11||Salford Red Devils||1||0||0||1||8||22||-14||0|