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|Friday 18th March 2011|
|Huddersfield Giants 6 Wigan Warriors 20|
|Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield|
|Engage Super League 16 - Round 6 of 27|
Kick Off 8:00pm
|19||Amos Roberts||1||Scott Grix|
|2||Darrell Goulding||36||Jamie Simpson|
|24||Stefan Marsh||3||Leroy Cudjoe|
|4||George Carmont||29||Joe Wardle|
|25||Josh Charnley||T||G4||5||David Hodgson|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||T||6||Kevin Brown|
|7||Thomas Leuluai||7||Danny Brough||G|
|14||Paul Prescott||15||Keith Mason|
|9||Michael McIlorum||14||Shaun Lunt|
|10||Andy Coley||10||Darrell Griffin|
|11||Harrison Hansen||4||Lee Gilmour|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||T||12||David Fa'alogo|
|22||Liam Farrell||11||Luke O'Donnell|
|15||Jeff Lima||8||Eorl Crabtree|
|21||Lee Mossop||9||Luke Robinson||T|
|23||Chris Tuson||13||David Faiumu|
|32||Joe Mellor*||19||Graeme Horne|
|*Wigan 32. Joe Mellor was an unused substitute.|
Wigan showed all their title class with a brick wall of a defensive display to see off Huddersfield despite the absences of Sam Tomkins, Martin Gleeson, Pat Richards, Paul Deacon, Stuart Fielden, Joel Tomkins, Brett Finch and Eamon O'Carroll. Not many expected a Wigan win but like I keep arguing on the message boards, we have Super League's best squad by far and it was proven again in this victory.
Wigan got off to a perfect start with a try in the 3rd minute. I think it was imperative that Wigan scored first and after Jamie Simpson had been penalised for interference on Sean O'Loughlin, a kick to the left from Thomas Leuluai was well collected by Josh Charnley, he threw the ball back to O'Loughlin who eased over the line. Not the easiest conversion for Charnley, kicking goals tonight after apparently winning a competition held during training, but he converted sweetly to make it 6-0. That try won me £15 on the coach in the first/last try competition, although I didn't realise it at the time. It paid for my post match beers!
After that initial try, the game settled down into a midfield battle. Huddersfield had a big chance on 15 minutes when Leroy Cudjoe broke down the right but his pass inside to Simpson on the wing was badly timed and Wigan got back to hammer him into touch.
Four minutes later it was Wigan's turn to break down the right. Darrell Goulding got away and hacked inside towards the posts. Amos Roberts was clear through, haring after the ball, but the ball just went dead before he could touch it down.
It was around that time that Huddersfield introduced Eorl Crabtree and Luke Robinson off the bench. At this point I think the home side began to get on top and it was a case of hanging in their for a while.
Joe Wardle almost scored on 21 minutes but two minutes later Huddersfield managed to score. Danny Brough put a bomb up to which Amos Roberts completely flapped. Bit of an excuse because he didn't know whether it was going to hit the post but the ball bounced and ended up falling kindly for Luke Robinson to score near the posts. Brough converted to make it 6-6.
The Giants were now getting a roll on and Brough was sensing Roberts confidence had been shot. He put another bomb up on 25 minutes but although Amos allowed the ball to bounce again, poor chase meant he was able to recover. Seconds after that we saw the sight of Ryan Hoffman limping off and it looked pretty bad to be honest, like his night was over, but he would return in the second half.
Half Time was about 13 minutes away and Huddersfield could have scored a couple in this period of the game but our never say die attitude in defence somehow managed to keep them at bay.
On the half hour, a kick from Brough to the right wing was almost collected by Cudjoe but Charnley just did enough to stop a certain try. It was at the expense of a knock on scrum but the Giants wasted their extra set with Cudjoe providing the error.
One of the reasons Wigan were on the back foot a lot was that our last tackle remained predictable more often than not. Bombs went up but they were so simple for defenders to collect. Then on 33 minutes Brough showed us how to create pressure with a bomb again . He put one up, Roberts again was nowhere but although Brough himself touched down, a slight knock on from Luke O'Donnell saw it chalked off by the video referee. A bit of luck but we were earning it again.
With five minutes to half time, Brough bombed towards Roberts again but this time he caught it and was giving a massive sarcastic cheer from the Wigan fans. I don't really like that personally (it's not going to help his confidence is it?) but you could understand it the way he had played.
It happens often in Rugby League that great defensive stands end up rewarded at the other end of the field. Having held firm during a good 15 minutes of pressure from the Giants, Wigan got one chance up the other end and took it. Kevin Brown was penalised for interference and this gifted an easy penalty goal for Charnley to make it 8-6 and that took us into half time with a slender lead.
Talk at half time was all about Roberts display at Full Back. It was as if he was a Thunderbird puppet and someone wasn't pulling his arm strings at the right moment. My opinion though was that the second half was all about keeping Huddersfield in touching distance.
Even better for Wigan was to start the second half like they did the first. They scored after just 160 seconds at the start of the game and the second half saw them take just 1 second more to repeat that dose. Beauty of a try as well. O'Loughlin put a neat chip over the top to the left corner and Charnley came from nowhere to beat Simpson to the ball. His kick off the touchline was wide but a 12-6 lead gave Wigan a big chance to win the game.
Must say though I didn't really expect Wigan to win the match by defending that lead for almost 30 minutes but that's exactly what they did.
The continuous waves of pressure began with a kick down the right on 48 minutes that looked perfectly weighted for Simpson to collect but Charnley again somehow managed to beat him to the ball. Then two minutes later three penalties in quick succession helped the Giants pile all over the try line and Simpson managed to get over in the right corner. Wigan's defence had just stopped and the video referee replays showed why, he had knocked on slightly before collecting the ball. NO TRY was flashed up and Wigan got away with that one. Again, a bit of luck but like I said our defence was earning it!
A rare Wigan opportunity up the other end on 53 minutes saw Amos Roberts sent over by Thomas Leuluai but the try was chalked off for obstruction by Harrison Hansen. These obstructions continue to frustrate fans of all clubs because they will occur in non TV games and go unpunished. My view on that one was that Leuluai didn't run round the back of the supposed obstruction so wasn't that just a poor read by the Giants defender?
That was a massive call and it kept the pressure on Wigan. The waves of attacks from Huddersfield continued but Wigan just kept scrambling and scrambling. On 57 minutes Scott Grix got over the line but Roberts held him up and another set on the line was seen off.
The clock ticked past the hour mark and I felt that a drop goal would be enough for Wigan to win the game. It would have demoralised the Giants I think but we never really got opportunities to do so.
More Huddersfield pressure came on 61 minutes after Robinson was awarded a soft penalty with Hoffman being deemed to have run into him. It put the Giants five metres from our line with a full set to play with. Wigan continued to scramble and a good kick to towards the in goal tested Stefan Marsh but he dealt with it at the expense of an unavoidable drop out. The drop out meant the pressure continued but David Hodgson decided to revisit his old "Dodgy" tag with a knock on out right.
The Giants were starting to look a bit clueless now in attack. They were just not finding any gaps in our defence and the one tactic they had, to test Amos Roberts, was now proving hard to achieve because instead of being 40 metres out and aiming for him stood on his own, they were always on our try line and thus it was harder to pick him out.
On 65 minutes though a grubber from Brough saw Roberts trapped in goal and that forced yet another drop out. Griffin went close charging at the line but Farrell, Hansen and Hoffman all combined to rock him backwards. They went right but Charnley and Carmont were having none of it. Then they swung left but a tame kick was dealt with by Roberts and Wigan had seen off the pressure again. Outstanding defence! To not crack with so many inexperienced players was true testament to the work done by coach Michael Maguire and his staff.
12 minutes to go was still a long time to hang on but Charnley relieved the pressure with a break down the left. He hacked inside and although a try was never on, Wigan really should have trapped Grix in goal, but he managed to scramble out.
A couple of minutes later Huddersfield were back pressuring the Wigan line after Andy Coley had been penalised for a forward pass and then a penalty had been conceded. Scrambling defence was on show again. Roberts and Hansen halted Robinson a bugs dick from the line. Then Leuluai stopped O'Donnell on the last tackle to ensure Wigan had survived yet again.
From that turnover, Shaun Lunt conceded a relieving penalty and Wigan now had perfect territory to aim for a drop goal that would win the match. They were doing just that but instead Lunt was penalised again for a stupid flop on Lee Mossop. Charnley had a pretty easy penalty goal to make it 14-6 and with 6 minutes to go, the game was now won. We knew Huddersfield were never going to score twice.
In fact Huddersfield never really got another chance. Wigan saw the game out on the attack and they got a nice cherry on the cake try in the 78 minutes. Charnley again was at the heart of it. O'Loughlin and Carmont combined to send him away down the left and he threw a lovely ball inside to send Hoffman over near the posts. Questionable forward. I suppose it depends whether the momentum rule exists or not, if it does then that isn't forward for me. Charnley converted anyway to make it 20-6 and that was how it finished.
The Wigan fans gave the lads a well deserved cheer at full time. An immense effort that takes us top of the table till Sunday at least. The only downside was that Joe Mellor never made it onto the field to make his debut. I could understand why because O'Loughlin was playing well at Stand Off but after the penalty goal it would have been nice to have seen him get on for the final five minutes.
It shows though that yet again Wigan have prevailed whilst only having three bench players. Nearly every game we've ended up with an injured player sitting most of the game out and that too say's a lot about the clubs current endeavour to succeed. The pack really is stepping up with Hoffman being an absolute beast in defence. Charnley was my man of the match but the Hoff was a close second. Big wraps for Prescott and Mossop as well. Brilliant to think that we've Stuart Fielden and Gareth Hock to add to this pack later in the season.
It would be awesome if we backed up again with victory against Warrington next Friday but I'm almost not bothered what happens next week, the last two performances have kind of bought a loss if we need it. Hopefully we won't need it though and can win again to go well clear at the top with that game in hand still in tact!
Super League 16 - Round 6 Results
|Fri 18 Mar||Crusaders 22 Catalan Dragons 32||3,517|
|Fri 18 Mar||Huddersfield Giants 6 Wigan Warriors 20||8,151|
|Fri 18 Mar||Hull FC 6 Wakefield Wildcats 20||11,032|
|Fri 18 Mar||Salford City Reds 34 Hull Kingston Rovers 18||4,408|
|Sat 19 Mar||Leeds Rhinos 16 St Helens 30||16,034|
|Sun 20 Mar||Bradford Bulls 18 Castleford Tigers 14||14,348|
|Sun 20 Mar||Warrington Wolves 82 Harlequins 6||11,506|
Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
|9||Hull Kingston Rovers||6||2||0||4||146||160||-14||4|
|11||Salford City Reds||6||2||0||4||128||200||-72||4|
*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.