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|Friday 1st April 2011|
|Leeds Rhinos 22 Wigan Warriors 22|
|Engage Super League 16 - Round 8 of 27|
Kick Off 8:00pm
|1||Sam Tomkins||T||G3||1||Brent Webb||T|
|19||Amos Roberts||19||Kallum Watkins|
|12||Joel Tomkins||T||12||Carl Ablett|
|4||George Carmont||4||Keith Senior|
|2||Darrell Goulding||T||5||Ryan Hall|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||13||Kevin Sinfield||G5|
|7||Thomas Leuluai||7||Rob Burrow|
|10||Andy Coley||8||Kylie Leuluai|
|9||Michael McIlorum||9||Danny Buderus||T|
|14||Paul Prescott||T||16||Ryan Bailey|
|11||Harrison Hansen||22||Jay Pitts|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||20||Weller Hauraki|
|22||Liam Farrell||11||Jamie Jones-Buchanan||T|
|15||Jeff Lima||15||Ben Cross|
|17||Brett Finch||17||Ian Kirke|
|21||Lee Mossop||21||Chris Clarkson|
|23||Chris Tuson||24||Paul McShane|
Well I'm writing this report 48 hours after our game finished and what a difference that time span makes. 65th Minute on Friday we were 22-4 down, had played really poorly and faced the likelihood of being five points behind Warrington in the table. I know it's early in the year but I think that would have been a hell of a gap to chase down.
Since then we claimed a dramatic draw and Warrington have let us off the biggest hook imaginable by failing to see off Catalan Dragons at home. Two point gap with a game in hand, favourable fixtures to come in the next couple of months, makes the garden far rosier. It's all about laying down a marker now when the French come to us on Friday, but more of that in the match preview for that one.
Back to Leeds and when you analyse the match again on replay, we started well and finished well but in the middle of the game we seemed to lack belief and composure after Leeds claimed back to back tries.
It was the worst possible start from Wigan after Thomas Leuluai knocked on at the kick off but we survived that early pressure on our line. Soon after three interference penalties in a row helped us put pressure on Leeds, only for Wigan to waste it with an offload from George Carmont being knocked on by Sam Tomkins in the left corner.
On 9 minutes, Wigan had another great chance. Leuluai took advantage of a Leeds player falling on his arse, broke clear from his own forty to the Leeds thirty but Harrison Hansen ended up knocking on his offload under pressure from Rob Burrow.
Wigan were well on top and got a deserved opening score in the 12th minute. A bad missed tackle from Weller Hauraki allowed Leuluai to break again and he showed great composure to commit three defenders before offloading to send Joel Tomkins over in the right corner. Sam Tomkins couldn't convert but 4-0 was definitely a deserved lead.
From the restart of that try, Wigan had another glorious chance. From his own thirty metre line, Mike McIlorum ran from dummy half, broke through a missed tackle by Ryan Bailey, before being chased down at the opposition twenty. He lost the ball in the tackle but Sam Tomkins scooped up with referee Richard Silverwood calling "back to one" but on reaching the last tackle, McIlorum went from glory to failure with him being penalised for an incorrect play the ball.
So we had three big breaks in the opening quarter of an hour but only one try. Had we made it 10-0, or maybe even 14 or 16-0, we could have realistically been in for a big night but once Leeds managed to convert to tries in quick succession, the match totally flipped. The belief sagged out of Wigan and Leeds grew in confidence.
The first Leeds try should see George Carmont being sent to a darkened room for a while when the players review this game. He's thirty from his own line and he throws a stupid offload towards Darrell Goulding, in which he had no chance of taking in, the pass going to Kevin Sinfield instead. A mere 42 seconds later, Leeds were over to take the lead and Wigan's good start was completely wasted. Jamie Jones-Buchanan claimed it with a close range reach over. Sinfield converted to make it 6-4 to Leeds.
To make Carmont feel worse, Leeds scored again from the restart. Hitting the left wing, a lovely pass from Brent Webb sent Ryan Hall clear, with Sam Tomkins coming accross Hall cleverly kicked inside and Buderus dribbled it over the line to touch down. Sinfield converted and four minutes after Carmont's stupid offload, Leeds now had a 12-4 lead after 21 minutes. The game had turned completely on it's head and to be honest Leeds kept total control for the next 45 minutes of the contest.
At this point, Brett Finch came on and didn't really lift Wigan, it has to be said. Leeds could have claimed a third try on 27 minutes when Kevin Sinfield touched down in the right corner but fortunately Jones-Buchanan was deemed offside by the video ref.
The game kind of drifted into half time but just before the break Leeds went over again, this time in the left corner. Ryan Hall claimed the try but Ryan Hall had definitely knocked on in the process. In the end I think 12-4 was a fortunate score for Wigan had half time but how quickly people forget that Wigan had also blown chances in the first quarter of an hour.
Wigan needed a strong start to the second half but Leeds kicked two penalty goals either side of a 46th minute yellow card to Jeff Lima. He was sin binned for poor tackle technique. He seemingly hit a players knee whilst in the process of being tackle. Now personally I don't have a problem with that. I actually think he'll get a 1 game ban for it but I think if you start penalising and banning players for that then your making steps towards soccer, a sport in which tackling is pretty much outlawed this days. Yes of course their is a potential for injury but surely that is part of the contract of playing a sport, particularly Rugby League. Now if he, or any player, had done that five times or so then you have words and punish him for it but for just one bad error of judgement, I think a sin bin is harsh and I'd say that if it had been the other way round. It just annoys me when I see bad high tackles go not only unpunished on the field but by the disciplinary as well. Let's see if they ban him though. I don't think they should for one bad offence but I bet they do!
The two penalty goals had made it 16-4 and although Wigan were huffing, they were unable to make too many inroads with 12 men. Having survived that period though pretty well in defence, it was a massive pisser to concede a fourth try soon after Lima returned.
It came after a last tackle bomb from Sinfield forced Sam Tomkins to knock on ten metres from his own line. From the scrum, Brent Webb soon scored. He took advantage of a missed tackle by Leauluai and Sinfield converted to make it 22-4. Soft, soft goal line defence.
I think it is fair to say that under Brian Noble we'd probably have collapsed in the final quarter of a match to a 36-4 kind of loss. You cannot fault this current side though for never giving up. We needed a player to step up and provide a spark and it came from, in my opinion, the best youngster we have at Wigan.
That player is the Ginger Pearl, Liam Farrell. I know most fans will be going, what about Sam, with me saying that but I have never not enjoyed watching Farrell play either first team in the academy. I think he is Mr Consistent, I can't recall him too often, not just having an odd bad game but making many mistakes either. Maybe I'm blind lol but for me he has an absolute heart of a lion and can also make a break, or support a break, when they happen. I think we really missed Farrell in the Warrington game.
Anyway this spark of his. If you've still got it on Sky+, watch it back. Watch the jinking step of his, that's what got him clear, it completely fooled Buderus, Paul McShane and Ryan Cross. He hadn't the pace to go 70 metres but the damage had already been done. He was caught 30 out, quick play the ball and pass to Sam Tomkins and he showed his absolutely class to score. He realised that full back Webb had been drawn forward to half Farrell and thus wasn't in position. He just chipped over the Leeds defenders, raced to the ball and scored near the sticks. Easy conversion for him made it 22-10.
Although the next set was wasted with a garbage last tackle kick from Finch, Wigan got another chance on 72 minutes after Cross knocked on, on the half way line. A minute later Wigan were in the right corner. Sean O'Loughlin's favourite move is the long cut out pass to the left winger and just like he did it for Josh Charnley against Hull FC, he did it for Goulding here. This was no gift for Goulding though, he did superb to touch it down. He had to reach high, then crouch low, whilst avoiding the touchline, under pressure from Kallum Watkins. Great effort. We needed the conversion but Sam couldn't kick it off the sideline and although six minutes still remained, I don't think anyone either at the ground on, or watching on tv, thought we could get anything of the game now.
But Wigan just kept going. Four minutes remained now and the ball was swung right. My boy, Farrell made the half break again (he was now playing centre after Roberts had switched to full back, Joel had gone to the right wing for Sam to go in at stand off and Leuluai for McIlorum at hooker) and sent Joel Tomkins racing down the right wing. Webb was coming across to half him and so Joel cleverly hacked on to towards the try line. Webb managed to scramble back at the expense of a drop out.
Inside three minutes now and Wigan still kept going. That man Farrell again forced Leeds into holding onto him too long. Penalty near the line and from that Paul Prescott barged over under the posts to claim his first try since September 2007 at Hull KR. That his only Wigan try, 78 appearances ago, and he actually only scored that one because the referee had taken out a full back that would have got a chance to stop him. Well done Preky! I can finally take him off being the cold streaks section in my match previews.
Sam converted from in front of the sticks which meant Wigan trailed by two points, but by the time the game restarted Wigan were 80 metres away from scoring with 65 seconds left. It got to the fourth tackle and 35 seconds left with Wigan only reaching half way. But a long pass from Finch helped open Leeds up. It took out five defenders and created an overlap for Sam Tomkins to send brother Joel racing down the right. A miracle try looked on but Keith Senior just managed to stop him short. Joel offloaded to Farrell but he was held just short. In fact held too long. Silverwood gave a penalty and with the clock pretty much expired, Wigan had one option and that was a shot at goal to level the game.
It was near the touchline and come on, admit it, you had no faith that Sam would kick it as well didn't you? But kick it he did and Wigan had robbed Leeds blind with a 22-22 draw. Lucky I suppose but top sides do get all the luck and long may it continue for Wigan. It is up to us now to use that as a launch pad to get our season going and make hay with our easier fixtures in the next two months.
Super League 16 - Round 8 Results
|Fri 1 Apr||Hull FC 18 Castleford Tigers 20||11,856|
|Fri 1 Apr||Leeds Rhinos 22 Wigan Warriors 22||16,118|
|Fri 1 Apr||St Helens 34 Hull Kingston Rovers 16||7,740|
|Sat 2 Apr||Salford City Reds 10 Crusaders 16||3,416|
|Sun 3 Apr||Bradford Bulls 24 Harlequins 22||12,354|
|Sun 3 Apr||Huddersfield Giants 34 Wakefield Wildcats 10||7,267|
|Sun 3 Apr||Warrington Wolves 20 Catalan Dragons 22||10,956|
Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
|10||Salford City Reds||8||3||0||5||160||226||-66||6|
|12||Hull Kingston Rovers||8||2||0||6||178||232||-54||4|
*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.