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|Friday 15th April 2011|
|Hull Kingston Rovers 16 Wigan Warriors 28|
|Craven Park, Wigan|
|Engage Super League 16 - Round 10 of 27|
|Kick Off 8:00pm|
|1||Sam Tomkins||28||Ben Cockayne||T|
|25||Josh Charnley||T||5||Liam Colbon|
|12||Joel Tomkins||T||4||Jake Webster|
|4||George Carmont||T||3||Kris Welham|
|5||Pat Richards||G4||21||Sam Latus|
|6||Paul Deacon||6||Blake Green|
|7||Thomas Leuluai||T||13||Scott Murrell||G2|
|10||Andy Coley||10||Joel Clinton|
|9||Michael McIlorum||18||Josh Hodgson|
|15||Jeff Lima||20||Mick Vella|
|11||Harrison Hansen||23||Willie Mason||T|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||T||8||Rhys Lovegrove|
|13||Sean O'Loughlin||12||Ben Galea|
|14||Paul Prescott||9||Ben Fisher|
|17||Brett Finch||14||Liam Watts|
|21||Lee Mossop||17||Matt Cook||T|
|22||Liam Farrell||22||Scott Taylor|
This performance was not pretty but far more like it from Wigan. The whole game was a massive midfield war of endurance but our defence was pretty strong for the most part.
Wigan made several changes to their line up. Josh Charnley replaced Darrell Goulding on the right wing whilst Joel Tomkins switched back from second row to right centre in place of Stefan Marsh. Paul Deacon made a welcome return at Stand Off, with Brett Finch dropping down to the bench, and Jeff Lima and Liam Farrell both returned to boost the pack.
The fact it took 17 minutes before the opening score came highlighted how much of a defensive battle this was. I think first score was always going to be crucial and Joel Tomkins claimed it, punishing an error from Scott Murrell close to his own line. They just swung it right and Sean O'Loughlin's pass allowed Joel to take advantage of the overlap. Pat couldn't convert - 4-0.
Soon after Wigan went in again. This time Ryan Hoffman scored from close range and Pat Richards converted to make it 10-0 after 22 minutes but Rovers soon responded after a Wigan error in their own quarter. Matt Cook claimed the try, scored towards the right corner. Scott Murrell converted to make it 10-6.
Now what Wigan did well for the rest of the game was that every time Rovers claimed a hard fought try, within four minutes we'd re-established a two score lead. The response to the Matt Cook try came from a familiar routine. It worked so well at the back end of last season with the full back, stand off and scrum half all combining towards the right centre/wing combination. It doesn't matter what order they combine, the routine just seemingly works every time.
Brett Finch had come into the half back role, whilst Tommy had replaced McIlorum at dummy half, so it was he who combined with Sam Tomkins and Paul Deacon to get the ball to right centre Joel Tomkins. His pass sent Josh Charnley angling at the right corner and he just had to much pace for full back Ben Cockayne. Pat Richards conversion made it 16-6 and that was a perfect tonic to take us into half time.
Having said that, two Rovers errors gave Wigan great opportunities to extend that lead just before the break but Wigan couldn't take advantage. By now the rain which had been threatening all night finally came but thankfully it wasn't enough to get us soaked in the open away stand. It was pretty much gone by the time the teams returned.
Now if you look back on recent trips to Craven Park they've all followed the same pattern. Wigan build a first half lead, Rovers get bollocked at half time and come out strong after the restart but Wigan still win anyway. So it perhaps should not have been much of a surprise to see Rovers claim the first try after half time.
Willie Mason scored it with a close range barge over but crucially perhaps, Scott Murrell failed to convert. 16-12 would have put a lot of sweat on Wigan but 16-10 relieved the pressure.
Then again you relieve your own pressure with a quick response don't you and it came from a trademark Thomas Leuluai effort. He loves to scoot towards the line from ten metres out and spinning out the tackles he crashed down for a big four pointer. Pat converted to make it 22-10 with 33 minutes to go.
Defences were so on top this really was a big two score lead but I do think Wigan should have just been a bit more clever and just kicked a bloody drop goal to end the contest. They had opportunities but kept going wide.
A drop goal would certainly have helped when Rovers hit back on 65 minutes. They had broke well up the left wing but I think it was Joel who chased back with a superb tackle. Didn't really matter because Ben Cockayne soon crashed over from close range, Murrell's conversion making it 22-16.
The Rovers fans sensed they now had a big chance but a massive moment in the end result came at the restart. It was bang in front of us. Pat Richards put in a superb well hung kick off that was aimed direct at the crossbar. It didn't hit it but the ball had to be taken in the in goal and although the Rovers attacker did get two metres beyond the try line, a wall of four Wigan defenders, led by Sean O'Loughlin, barrelled him back over the line for a drop out.
Then from the drop out Rovers conceded a penalty which was an easy "take the two" decision. Simple kick from pretty much in front and 24-16 was game over on a night like this, even though 12 minutes remained.
In the end Wigan claimed a cherry on top of the cake try in the 77th minute. Going left they found an overlap with George Carmont scoring in the corner. Pat's conversion missed but it didn't really matter - 28-16 was the final score.
So in summary - a good professional performance by Wigan. They didn't really flow in attack but they weren't allowed to by Hull KR. We ground out a good win and our kicking game was much improved. Not just from Deacon either, Sam Tomkins put in two excellent kicks in the second half that pinned Rovers well back, one of them was actually a 40/20 in the last minute.
This victory extends our unbeaten run away from DW Stadium to 20 matches (including neutral venues). It's a run that makes our current home form all the more laughable but I'll take all those home game struggles if it means we beat the enemy next Good Friday!
Post Match confirmation of Michael Maguire's departure at the end of the season has to be welcomed as well. Of course I'd much prefer he was staying a decision either way needed to happen sooner rather than later. We can finally move on and I hope this win proves to be the kick start our so far stuttering season needs.
Finally that was another great following from the Wigan fans. "Best following of the season" says a Rovers fan on our message board, not bad for a Friday night trip. Although the "Ultra's" section can piss off after the "Bilko is a Wanker" chant that I got when I walked past during the first half - haha!
ps Jeff Lima incident right on the hooter. Really didn't see what caused that bust up so can't really comment.
Super League 16 - Round 10 Results
|Fri 15 Apr||Harlequins 26 Castleford Tigers 26||4,128|
|Fri 15 Apr||Leeds Rhinos 6 Huddersfield Giants 38||14,768|
|Fri 15 Apr||Hull Kingston Rovers 16 Wigan Warriors 28||8,703|
|Fri 15 Apr||St Helens 52 Wakefield Wildcats 6||7,003|
|Fri 15 Apr||Warrington Wolves 64 Crusaders 6||10,002|
|Sat 16 Apr||Salford City Reds 56 Bradford Bulls 16||2,809|
|Sat 16 Apr||Catalan Dragons 28 Hull FC 10||8,025|
Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
|9||Salford City Reds||10||4||0||6||236||294||-58||8|
|11||Hull Kingston Rovers||10||3||0||7||232||288||-56||6|
*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.