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|Easter Monday 28th March 2016|
|Wigan Warriors 30 Hull Kingston Rovers 16|
|DW Stadium, Wigan|
|First Utility Super League 21 - Round 8 of 23|
|Kick Off 8:00pm|
|22||Lewis Tierney||T||5||Kieran Dixon||G2|
|5||Dom Manfredi||T||27||Will Oakes|
|3||Anthony Gelling||4||Iain Thornley||T2|
|20||Oliver Gildart||T||1||Ken Sio|
|2||Josh Charnley||T3||G3||23||Ryan Shaw|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||22||Matty Marsh|
|7||Matty Smith||11||Maurice Blair|
|17||Lee Mossop||26||Robbie Mulhern|
|32||Luke Waterworth||24||George Lawler|
|11||Joel Tomkins||20||James Greenwood|
|27||Nick Gregson||12||Graeme Horne||T|
|4||Dan Sarginson||8||Adam Walker|
|16||Sam Powell||28||Kieran Moran|
|19||Taulima Tautai||29||Joe Wardill|
|21||Ryan Sutton||30||Joe Cator|
If anyone wanted an advert for scrapping the second part of the Easter weekend double, then this was probably it.
I thought it was a tame spectacle but let's first of all give massive credit to Hull KR who came with a young side and kept fighting all night long. They did their support proud and I don't think they could have done any better than they did to be honest. A far cry from the 84-6 massacre on Easter Monday three years ago.
Wigan though were pretty poor and lacklustre but yet I never really doubted we would win the game. I always thought we would find enough gears to get the job done. That said, I didn't think we'd be waiting until the 67th Minute to finally find the game breaking moments.
It has dawned on me that we did actually witness Wigan's best attacking return of the season, with 30 points being posted, but you still can't get past how poor, wasteful and lethargic this attack is and what is worrying me is that it's on a constant repeat. It's not showing any signs of getting any better.
Fair enough, results are still being maintained but it's frustrating and hard to watch the attack disintegrating all the time and wasting it's territory far more often than it isn't.
I have to say though. I've been writing reports on games since 2002 and I'm not one for having a go at referees, particularly ever blaming them for a defeat. However on this occasion I thought the referee performance was really poor.
Chris Kendall refereed his first Super League match only last September and whilst I appreciate that he is a young ref learning his trade, it worries me that he is up to Super League level already having only officiated an Under 19s match at Orrell as recently as September 2013.
To be blunt about it, I thought he looked way out his depth. Not his fault I suspect but he didn't look ready for this level to me. He gave tons of penalties in this match and the vast majority were for interference it seemed.
The ruck ended up being absolutely rancid to watch and I think the way he officiated the was a factor in this awful spectacle of a match. I couldn't understand a lot of his decisions and also some of his non-decisions. I honestly don't get frustrated by referees that often, as my radio commentaries will testify, but on this occasion, I was baffled constantly.
I don't blame him though and I wish him all the best for his career. I just question why officials like Gareth Hewer (who officiated in Super League far back as 2008) and Jamie Bloem are being kept on Championship matches, yet an official like Kendall goes from Under 19s to Super League, leapflogging that experience, in two and half years.
If he is deemed better on merit then fair play but I assume more that it is because he is full time and the two others mentioned are part time? Whatever the reason, it just doesn't seem right to me.
Anyway, on to the game itself. Wigan started with academy debutant Luke Waterworth at hooker and he did ok despite only playing the first twenty minutes.
You felt the interchange would be Wigan's strength and it threatened to be when the deadlock was broken on 25 minutes. It was a great diagonal run and finish from Lewis Tierney who steamed onto a Joel Tomkins pass. Josh Charnley was on goal kicking, because Matty Smith had a tight hamstring but he missed the extras.
Like so often this season, Wigan's wasteful attack was pushing it's luck and with discipline lacking in defence, Rovers were getting chances to attack. It still looked like Wigan would keep up their fabulous first half defensive record this season but they ended up being sucker punched twice with Rovers going into the sheds with two tries.
First Graeme Horne crossed, then Iain Thornley got a gift of a score from a Wigan error. Kieran Dixon converted the first score which left Wigan trailing 10-4 at the break.
I tweeted at half time that I'd be "flabbergasted" if Wigan played that badly second half and I was right, they didn't. That's not to say they improved massively though.
They got level within five minutes after a loose ball was collected and returned 90 metres under the posts by Charnley, who added a second try from 1 metre out, after a great offload by Dan Sarginson, four minutes later. Conversion of the first put Wigan 14-10 up.
But that lead was lost quickly when Thornley soon grabbed a second for Rovers with the extras by Dixon putting them back in front at 16-14.
That score held for the next 15 minutes and although I had always felt confident we would win despite the poor show, time was ticking on and you felt Rovers really were deserving of the win.
It wasn't to be for them though. A second quick fire double of the half on 67 and 69 minutes decided the contest Wigan's way. First Anthony Gelling's good work squeezed Dom Manfredi in the right corner before Oliver Gildart finished well from 30 metres on the left side for a four pointer. Charnley again only converted one of the score but crucially Wigan had a two score lead at 24-16.
The result never looked in doubt from that moment and Wigan would seal the job done with Charnley completing his hat-trick with an 80 metre loose ball return under the sticks to seal a 30-16 victory.
Hopefully Charnley can use that to be a return towards his old form. He seems more like it week by week. This was the 12th Hat-Trick of his Wigan career but his first since July 2014 at London.
After all said and done, despite this hard to watch performance, Easter weekend has been a job well done for Wigan. They join Wakefield, Hull and Catalan in having won both Easter Games but they still have the small matter of Warrington to play on Friday at the DW. The hard grind of this period of the season is not over yet!
First Utility Super League 21 - Round 8 Results
|Mon 28 Mar||Huddersfield Giants 24 Salford Red Devils 26||4,885|
|Mon 28 Mar||Hull FC 26 Warrington Wolves 24||9,967|
|Mon 28 Mar||Leeds Rhinos 16 Wakefield Wildcats 20||16,314|
|Mon 28 Mar||Widnes Vikings 12 St Helens 20||9,076|
|Mon 28 Mar||Catalan Dragons 41 Castleford Tigers 22||10,351|
|Mon 28 Mar||Wigan Warriors 30 Hull Kingston Rovers 16||11,268|
2016 First Utility Super League 21 Table - After This Round
|7||Salford Red Devils||9||4||0||5||238||233||+5||8|
Top 8 Qualify for "Super 8s" after Round 23 / Top 4 Qualify for Play Offs
|11||Hull Kingston Rovers||9||1||1||7||160||249||-89||3|