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|Thursday 9th July 2015|
|Wigan Warriors 26 Leeds Rhinos 24|
|DW Stadium, Wigan|
|First Utility Super League 20 - Round 21 of 23|
Kick Off 8:00pm
|1||Matty Bowen||T||3||Kallum Watkins|
|2||Josh Charnley||T||27||Ash Handley||T|
|14||John Bateman||20||Jimmy Keinhorst|
|4||Dan Sarginson||4||Joel Moon|
|5||Joe Burgess||5||Ryan Hall|
|6||George Williams||13||Kevin Sinfield||G4|
|7||Matty Smith||G5||6||Danny McGuire|
|8||Dom Crosby||8||Kylie Leuluai|
|9||Michael McIlorum||9||Paul Aiton||T|
|11||Joel Tomkins||15||Brett Delaney|
|12||Liam Farrell||T||12||Carl Ablett|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||T||17||Adam Cuthbertson|
|17||Tony Clubb||7||Rob Burrow||T|
|23||Lee Mossop||19||Brad Singleton||T|
|24||Taulima Tautai||21||Josh Walters|
|25||Larne Patrick||22||Andy Yates|
Wigan practically fixed everything I moaned about last week. Mike
McIlorum did 80 minutes, the pack got stuck in and played very
direct and a performance all came together off the back of that
against the league leading Leeds Rhinos.
Whilst on one hand delighted, it proved really what a wasted opportunity last week against Warrington was. If we'd have played like this last week, then I think we'd have beat Warrington and with that we'd be joint top of the table.
Nethertheless this was a huge win. Finishing second above Saints means we'll have them visiting the DW for a derby after the split rather than us going to Langtree. We have Widnes and Hull left to play whilst Saints have Huddersfield (tonight), Warrington (away) and Hull KR to play before the split. You have to fancy they'll slip up at least once, so no excuses for Wigan to not take a top two finish now.
In terms of this match, it's certainly being argued by Leeds fans that we shouldn't have had a first half try, because we got a scrum from a Matty Smith knock on, and then they should have had the try chalked off for obstruction. They may well be valid arguments, draw your own conclusions, BUT I think you can earn your luck in sport and Wigan's effort did so here.
I felt in general that Wigan stifled Leeds natural play. Highlighted by the fact three of their four tries came from a metre out. Two of them also came from gifted territory in the form of ridiculously mad and unnecessary offload intercepts thrown by Joel Tomkins.
Wigan in comparison scored three good tries from kicks, which was pleasing to see, and in general had a little more deep threat than Leeds did. Joe Burgess set up the first try from deep whilst McIlorum should have slipped in George Williams for a certain try under the posts from a long break and Dan Sarginson was unfortunate pulling up with a hamstring on another deep break that was looking ominous.
Leeds found ground at times up the middle, particularly from Adam Cuthbertson's offloads, but didn't really threaten out wide, which is a key strength for them. Often when going wide they threw the ball into touch, such was the good job being done of them by the Wigan wide defence. In particular John Bateman was strong filling in at centre against the experience duo of Joel Moon and Ryan Hall. Those two made five errors between them to highlight that argument.
It was obvious from the first set that the Wigan forwards were going to get stuck in but the first mad offload from Joel in the 7th Minute got Leeds on the attack and although they didn't score initially from that mistake, Wigan never got back on the front foot until after Paul Aiton had claimed the games first try and Kevin Sinfield converted for 6-0 to Leeds.
Wigan's response though was swift. Good overlap on the left saw Joe Burgess breaking through. He spotted Liam Farrell's inside support and put in a beautifully weighted kick that bounced perfect for the Pearl. Great vision and Ginger saw off Carl Ablett for pace also.
Matty Smith converted that and he was sending Sean O'Loughlin through a gap for the second try soon after. Lockers went through the defence of Aiton and Kylie Leuluai before beating fill in full back Kallum Watkins for strength with the put down. Smith converted for 12-6 after quarter of an hour.
I felt Wigan were looking for likely to push on for a third score and were mightily close when a kick through found a wide open Josh Charnley but the bounce of the ball proved unkind. Leeds though got back on the attack from the second mad early tackle count offload by Joel. It was taken by Aiton, who read it well to be fair. This got Leeds on the front foot again and Cuthbertson slipped Brad Singleton over for a 26th Minute try that made it 12-12 after Singleton converted.
Then Leeds had a much disputed try chalked off for offside that would have been a great try to remember had it been given. Several offloads in the build up and Danny McGuire finished, but it got chalked off.
I've not seen video of it to comment but whatever you think about it, I still firmly believe we should not be using the video referee to look at obstruction. I ranted about this on the radio at the time. The video refs looked five times at the incident, when I reckon two would of sufficed, and the decision took far too long to be concluded. The game needs speeding up and had Silverwood made his call, which he gave as "no try" when it actually happened, then we wouldn't even be talking about this because the "try" would have got so far to be scored.
Also, whether you agree with the decision or not, it was chalked off BUT if Leeds had been tackled short it couldn't have been checked and we would have just played on, thus the reverse of the decision concluded by at least two match officials. That is wrong, fundamentally wrong, in my eyes and it continues to happen on a regular basis. If Richard Silverwood had made his own call, then he'd be saved from a lot of the grief he is getting over it.
Anyway, Wigan ended up with the lead at half time with a lovely kick from George Williams being superbly won in the air by Matty Bowen near the sticks. It was a lovely side swerve by George before the kick. Smith converted for 18-12.
That was a good half time lead but I felt Wigan were dumb in not setting up for a drop goal late for 19-12 at the break. A Leeds error gave them a scrum 40 out but rather than going into a drop goal mode of tunnelling towards the posts and setting up for it, the last tackle came towards the left wing and Smith was never set and had a scrappy woeful effort in the end. That lost one point almost cost Wigan at the end of the game and they were guilty of the same thing in the second half also.
First try of the second half was a big one and it came to Wigan from another kick. Smith spotted Charnley free on the right and his weighted kick sat perfectly, unlike the one in the first half. Smith then nailed a very important conversion off the touchline which made it 24-12.
Two minutes later Wigan should have made it 30-12 with a long deep break by McIlorum seeing George Williams in support. It looked like all he had to do was slip the pass to send Williams under the posts but he went for the glory himself and not only got tackled but McGuire's good tackle forced an error.
That proved a massive moment because a minute later, Leeds turned what could of been 30-12 down and practically game over into game on with a try that pretty much mirrored Charnley's try three minutes before. Kick to the right found Ash Handley in space and he scored for 24-18 after Sinfield added the extras.
24 minutes without a score followed that and my frustration turned to Wigan never really setting up for the one pointer. It looked so obvious to me in this game that seven score lead would be enough to win it and we got at least three opportunities to set up for it and never did. Leeds errors gave us two scrums on half way for example but rather than tunnel towards the posts, we still kept going left and right and the only attempt we did have was another scramble effort from Smith that was blocked..
Hindsight can be beautiful, or a complete bastard, but the failure to kick the one looked mightily costly when Rob Burrow scored to level with three minutes to go. If you keep Leeds within a sniff of hope, they keep coming and that try was coming for a few minutes before it did. They are like trying to pin down a kangaroo on a trampoline, they wouldn't go away and it was a choker to see them level at 24-24.
About two minutes remained still in the game but I think Leeds actually played it dumb late on. They fancied the glory of nicking the win when instead I think they should have stuck it up the jumper and took the draw. In terms of the league table, the one league point would have been a great one for them but instead they still went for the win and came unstuck with an obstruction going against them giving Matty Smith a kick at goal to win it. 40 metres out, many wouldn't have backed him, but he nailed it to put Wigan 26-24 up with 17 seconds remaining. Their was still time for a short kick off by Leeds but it went out on the full and the result went to Wigan in the end.
So a great performance in terms of hard work from Wigan but they need to be doing this every single week. We haven't seen anything close to that hard work away from home this season and that's why fans have every right to still ask questions. If we put that effort in and lost then at least we could be content that the opposition put in a good shift to beat us. Often away we've been far too soft for our own good.
Finally I have to comment on the return of Tony Clubb. He only got two ten minute spells on his comeback but his will and work rate in defence was absolutely fantastic. More of that please!
First Utility Super League 20 - Round 21 Results
|Thu 9 July||Wigan Warriors 26 Leeds Rhinos 24||15,009|
|Fri 10 July||St Helens 35 Huddersfield Giants 34||11,164|
|Sun 12 July||Hull FC 21 Castleford Tigers 18||10,114|
|Sun 12 July||Salford Red Devils 31 Hull Kingston Rovers 18||4,500|
|Sun 12 July||Wakefield Wildcats 20 Warrington Wolves 40||3,354|
|Sun 12 July||Widnes Vikings 29 Catalan Dragons 22||4,822|
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||21||9||0||12||510||572||-62||18|
|11||Salford Red Devils||21||8||1||12||421||526||-105||17|