Monday, 7 October 2013

Wigan Triumph Over Wire in Grand Final

A stunning second half comeback saw Wigan Warriors complete a League and Cup double with a superb 30-16 victory over Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford.

Both sides were raring to go but the game was halted in the second minute when Green went down injured during a Wigan attack and replays showed he had been struck by Westwood but thankfully he was able to get up and continue.

Wigan had the better start and O'Loughlin picked out Goulding who looked to set Charnley away but Bridge touch knocked the ball into touch and from the scrum, Gouding was held short of the line and Smith kicked on the final tackle but the kick was too powerful for anyone to collect.

Warrington pushed back by forcing Wigan to drop out from in goal but the first points came from Wigan in the 11th minute as Wigan were awarded a penalty ans Richards successfully kicked for goal for a 2-0 lead.

Green hit a brilliant 40/20 minutes later but Wigan failed to take advantage from a good position and in the 21st minute, Warrington took the lead after a Briers kick to the corner was collected by Joel Monaghan who went over for the first try but Ratchford's missed goal meant the lead was only 2-4.

Warrington went in again after Richards had kicked out on the full and from the penalty, Higham sent Grix over for the try and Ratchford added the goal for a eight point lead at 2-10. The Wire try run continued with a third in eight minutes as Briers found Westwood who saw a huge gap in the Wigan line and exploited it to score and Ratchford's successful kick made it 2-16 giving Wigan a mountain to climb to comeback.

Wigan needed a quick response and in their attack, Monaghan went down injured and had to be stretchered off with Wigan getting a breakthrough as the ball from Tomkins found Goulding who went over for a try in the 39th minute and Richards missed goal meant a ten point deficit at 6-16 at the interval.

Wigan made a perfect start in the second half as McIlorum swooped over to score under the posts in the 47th minute and Richards' successful kick meant they were only four behind at 12-16. The East stand went wild when a great kick from Goulding was collected by Charnley who notched up his 43rd try of the season after racing clear and Richards converted for a Wigan lead of 18-16.

The lead could have increased instantly as Tomkins setup Charnley but with the try line in sight, he knocked on to the despair of the Wigan fans but they were joyful again in the 64th minute as McIlorum hit a pinpoint pass to Green who raced over the line to score Wigan's fourth try and with a Richards goal, Wigan now led 24-16 and the doubters were preparing their humble pies.

The win and the completion of the double was guaranteed by the departing Pat Richards who took a pass from O'Loughin before stopping unmarked inches from the try line before walking over for a famous try which caused an eruptive roar from the Wigan fans which increased as he kicked the goal for a 30-16 lead.

Just before the hooter, Blake Green was announced as the winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy which was an amazing achievement after being injured in the opening minutes and it ensured that Wigan's half back partnership now hold both the Challenge Cup and Grand Final man of the match awards.

The hooter sounded to the countdown of the joyous Wigan fans and the celebrations of a spectacular comeback began and lasted late into the night.

What a brillaint final that was, the perfect way to bring down the curtain on an amazing and successful season for Wigan and at 18-16 I was thinking my wild prediction would come true but six points either way wasn't too bad and it mattered not after an amazing night.

This season has been a great pleasure to report on and  after my seasonal round up later in the week, I will see you all next season. BRING ON 2014!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Wire and Wigan Meet in Grand Final

When Wigan and Warrington faced off in round two of the regular rounds, few would have bet that they would meet in the final game of the season - the Super League Grand Final but the showpiece event that many neutrals wished for will come true tomorrow at Old Trafford.

Warrington are favourites having finished higher in the league but also because they know Wigan have failed to beat them in both of the last two seasons in the league with the last Wigan win against them coming in the 2011 Challenge Cup.

Both sides beat Huddersfield and Leeds in the play-offs with Warrington posting the better scores which is another reason why Wigan are the underdogs, one thing Wigan do have over Warrington is that they have been and won at Old Trafford doing so in their last visit in 2010.

Wigan welcome back captain Sean O'Loughlin and the departing trio of Lee Mossop, Pat Richards and Sam Tomkins will all make their final appearance for the Warriors while Warrington name the same 19 that defeated Huddersfield last week.

Wigan -Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins.

Warrington- Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge, Lee Briers, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Brett Hodgson, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Adrian Morley, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford, Chris Riley, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Paul Wood.

This year, I have been close and sometimes far away with predictions but I think this will be a close one and my heart is going for Wigan 24 Warrington 22.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Wigan Reach Grand Final In Style

Warrington's narrow win over Huddersfield on Thursday meant the prospect of the long awaited 'Wire v Wigan' final was on the cards as Wigan played host to reigning champions Leeds at the DW.

Wigan looked to avenge the 13-12 defeat from the previous year while bidding farewells to Pat Richards, Lee Mossop, Chris Tuson and the mercurial Sam Tomkins. Leeds having come away from a tough 11-10 win over St Helens knew that Wigan at the DW would be different to the game they won earlier in the month.

Leeds kicked off to Wigan but it was the Rhinos who had the first scoring chance as a pass to Jones-Bishop on the wing saw him fly over for a try or so it would seem as Bentham went to the video referee who on review deemed that the ball had not been grounded and despite a 'NO TRY' it was an early wake up call for Wigan.

Wigan learnt from their early error after Leeds were penalised for offside and from the kick an amazing pass from Richards on the line saw Thornley dive over for the opening try to send the home fans wild and they continued as Richards sent over the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

Leeds had a great chance to score when Watkins picked out Jones-Bishop but strong defence from Wigan saw the winger tackled into touch, Liam Farrell made a break to Jack Hughes who was held short with the try line in sight and Hall broke free for Leeds but with a lack of support the move broke down.

Richards made a superb break after intercepting but was tackled by Kirke close to the 20 metre line, a try would have been a certainty in Richards' earlier career but his ageing legs allowed the defender to catch him.

As the interval came, a single score separated the sides meaning the next try would be important to the shape of the game. Leeds came to life within four minutes of the restart as a quick break by Ablett saw him racing clear of the Wigan defence but he chose to offload to the supporting Moon who went over for the try, Sinfield converted and the sides were level at 6 all.

Wigan were back in front in the 53rd minute as a run from Green saw him find Farrell who flew over the line for the try to the joy of the South Stand and seconds earlier I actually said it had been a while since he had scored, another textbook conversion from Richards saw Wigan lead 12-6.

The lead increased inside five minutes as a clever grubber kick by Matty Smith was fumbled by Ablett and Goulding was on hand to collect the ball and swoop over the line for a brilliant try, as Richards hit his third successive conversion surely the game was won for Wigan with a 18-6 lead.

Leeds thought otherwise as a superb pass from Burrow put Moon clear and certain to score with the Wigan defenders behind him but out of nowhere, Hansen caught him and forced him to knock on inches from the try line as Leeds looked for a way back into the game.

The desperation was clear minutes later with another mistake from Leeds as Hardaker dropped to give Wigan back possession after Wigan had been forced dropout from in goal, time ticked on into the final ten minutes and Smith attempted a drop goal but was blocked as Leeds gained possession.

The result was all but sealed with eight minutes remaining as a dash from Smith to maybe try another drop goal attempt saw him pick out Goulding who hit a pinpoint pass to Charnley who raced over for the try, his 42nd of the season but Richards missed the conversion to give Leeds a glimmer of hope at 22-6.

Leeds hit a short kick-off but Wigan claimed the ball and received a penalty after Bailey held on too long when tackling Tomkins and Wigan elected to kick for goal but a narrow miss from Richards kept the score at 22-6, Leeds went in for their second try in the 77th minute scored by Sutcliffe but even though Sinfield converted they were still 10 points behind at 22-12.

As the final seconds counted down the Wigan fans began to celebrate with the full time hooter causing a roar from the home fans and ecstatic euphoria as Wigan avenged their 2012 exit and reached their first Grand Final in three years since 2010, the year that Leeds last failed to reach the showpiece event having lost out to Wigan in similar circumstances.

An amazing game and an electric atmosphere were a perfect way for the four departing Warriors to bid farewells to the faithful DW crowd but with a Grand Final clash against Warrington next Saturday they can go out with a bang and on a personal level after two consecutive Grand Final attendances without Wigan, it will be delightful to be there to see them for a second time in four years.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wigan Seek Revenge Over Leeds

Wigan host Leeds on Friday in the play-off semi final with a place in the 2013 Grand Final at stake in what will be an emotional night at the DW.

Wigan will bid farewell to Lee Mossop, Chris Tuson and legends Pat Richards and Sam Tomkins with all raring to go out with a Grand Final win next week. Wigan are especially fired up for the game with last year's exit still haunting many people after a Sinfield penalty in the final seconds saw Leeds secure a 13-12 win over then League Leaders Wigan who went on to win the Grand Final against Warrington.

Leeds will be looking for a third consecutive Grand Final victory to join their wins over St Helens and Warrington (2011/2012) and may face a new opponent should League Leaders Huddersfield overcome Warrington tonight.

Wigan -Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins.

Leeds - Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Kevin Sinfield (c), Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke, Chris Clarkson, Mitch Achurch, Brad Singleton, Liam Sutcliffe.

As with the league meeting earlier in the month, it will be a close game but Wigan need the win more having not reached the Grand Final since 2010 so I think them having the last week off will prove important and as such predict Wigan 24 Leeds 22. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Wigan Face Leeds In Play Off Semi

Wigan will host Leeds on Friday night after Warrington cluballed League Leaders Huddersfield who they will host on Thursday night. Many thought Warrington would repeat the previous two clubcalls which saw Leeds chosen by themselves and Wigan with the Rhinos being eventual winners of both Grand Finals.

This comes after Huddersfield demolished Hull FC 76-18 on Thursday night after being 54-6 up at half time and Leeds needed a late drop goal from McGuire to secure a 11-10 win over St Helens. The lineup of the two semis means that the prospect of a first ever Wigan v Warrington final is once again a possibility which will please those who have wanted it for years.

Thursday 26th September

Warrington Wolves v Huddersfield Giants

Friday 27th September

Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Giants Dwarfed By Warriors

Wigan secured a safe passage to the final week of the play-offs and put themselves within touching distance of the Grand Final with a pulsating win over League Leaders Huddersfield.

Huddersfield went into the tie the inform team and at full strength while Wigan were missing their mercurial captain Sean O'Loughlin and star centre Darrell Goulding as they hoped to halt a run of four league defeats.

The Giants got off to a brilliant start in the pouring rain as they forced Wigan to concede two goal line dropouts inside four minutes and the pressure paid off as a swift shimmy by Brough saw him slice the Warriors defence and race clear to open the scoring which he increased by converting successfully for a 6-0 lead.

Wigan needed to pull back with the rainfall increasing and had a great chance minutes later as Flower sped down the middle and a grubber kick forced a dropout for the Giants but from the resulting kick off, Wigan wasted the chance with a forward pass.

Wigan got lucky in the 24th minute as quick hands saw Gelling in space down the right and he threw a pass to Charnley who slid over the line for a staggering 40th try of the season and Richards hit a superb conversion to level the game at 6 all.

Huddersfield fell behind after the kick off went out on the full and the confident Richards selected to kick for goal from halfway and did so spectacularly to give Wigan a 6-8 lead but their own indiscipline cost the Warriors as Brough kicked a penalty to level at 8 all with a minute remaining of the first half.

Wigan started the second period with heavy pressure after receiving from the kick off as they forced three successive drop outs hoping Huddersfield's defence would crack and see them increase their lead but the defence held firm.

However, the pressure soon paid off as Green and Gelling combined to send Charnley over for a record breaking 41st try of the season  in the 55th minute and another stunning conversion from Richards put his side 8-14 in front.

Huddersfield needed something special to break open a Wigan defence that had held firm since Brough's early try but their attacks were nullified as the defence stayed strong but their hopes stuttered as Smith swept over a drop goal for Wigan with 14 to go to open up a seven point lead.

The lead increased to 13 and all but sealed a win for Wigan as Green raced clear for an amazing try as he spied a gap in the tiring Giants defence and took advantage to send the travelling fans into a deafening roar of celebration which increased as Richards sent over a third successive kick and Wigan led 8-21.

The final minutes saw the Wigan fans berating their opponents by singing ' We can see you sneaking out' a spin on the chant that the Giants fans had used in their win at Wigan last month and their mood hit rock bottom at the sound of the hooter as Smith rubbed salt in the wound by kicking an audacious drop goal to seal a 8-22 win and send Wigan through to a home tie in week three and only a win away from a trip to Old Trafford for the second time in four years.

An amazing night and atmosphere that I was proud to be part of as Wigan again proved to be the masters when it comes to a rainy surface just like they had at Wembley, to honest I think the nerves got to Hudds having been League Leaders but as a Warrior, I know winning the LLS can be a curse as we found last year in club-calling  Leeds who went on to become champions after beating us 13-12 in the semi final.

 On a final note, I was shocked that Huddersfield failed to attract a decent crowd for such a big game as an attendance of about 7,000 even on a Thursday is poor when it was rumoured that we took 2,000 up to Huddersfield for the game.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wigan face League Leaders Huddersfield

After the defeat to Leeds in Friday, Wigan face a trip to table toppers Huddersfield in week one of the play-offs. 

The two sides met last month in a game that saw Wigan's hopes of retaining the League Leaders Shield all but end and put the Giants in pole position for their first title in 81 years. 

Due to both finishing in the top four, they know a loss is not the end of their chances with the week two eliminator giving them one final chance to qualify for the week three semis which for Wigan could see an eliminator next week against fierce rivals St Helens.

Wigan welcome back Gil Dudson but  Darrell Goulding and Sean O'Loughlin miss out due to injury while Huddersfield name a near unchanged team from the sides last meeting with Ben Blackmore named in the 19.

Huddersfield - Grix, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Faiumu, Lawrence, Patrick, Chan, Ta'ai, Murphy, Ferguson,Blackmore, Wood.

Wigan - Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Andy Powell, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson.

Form into the play-offs can sometimes be irrelevant as Leeds have shown in recent years by finishing fifth and going on to win the Grand Final and after being humbled last month by Huddersfield, Wigan need a win to silence the doubters and I think given the extra few days preparation they may get it. 
So I am going for Hudds 24 Wigan 30.  

Friday, 6 September 2013

Rhinos Pip Warriors To Third

It seems like just yesterday that Wigan were preparing for the first round of the season against Salford but the reality is that they are reflecting on a defeat to Leeds in the final round which saw them fall to and finish in fourth place.

The pre-match build up focused on the Man of Steel shirts and sponsorship for each side with both fielding past Men of Steel - Jamie Peacock for Leeds and Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards for Wigan and for Richards along with Tuson and Mossop it was a final Super League home game before moving to pastures new for 2014.

Both sides made cagey starts with kicking being the main focus of the early sets but Leeds went over for a try against the run of play and the decision was handed 'upstairs' to the video referee who deemed a 'no try' for a double movement while Wigan breathed a sigh of relief.

Wigan could have scored themselves after a superb 40/20 kick by Green put them in a great position and as a result, Thornley went over for a try but it was chalked off for a forward pass in the build up

 Leeds forced two dropouts in succession as they threatened to open the scoring which they did in the 24th minute after Green's pass to Richards was intercepted close to the Leeds line and saw Ben Jones-Bishop race away leaving the Wigan chasing defenders for dust as he went over for the opening try but Sinfield's missed kick meant a slim 0-4 lead.

Green came close to making up for his mistake on the half-hour as he sent a pass to Thornley who rushed at the defence but the next play saw Wigan fail to take advantage and Leeds gained the ball via the turnover.

Wigan did take the lead two minutes before the interval as Green broke through the Leeds defence and raced away but with Hardaker ahead of him he passed to Richards who evaded the full back to dash over the line to a roar from the Warriors fans and he got similar praise as he swept over the conversion for a 6-4 lead at half time.

Leeds took just two minutes before they retook the lead after a great offload by Moon sent Ablett in and Sinfield kicked successfully for a 6-10 lead. Wigan could have gone further behind just on the hour mark as Watkins came close to scoring but was prevented by fine defence from the Warriors.

The lead did increase minutes later as Hall linked a pass to Moon down the left and over he went for the try and as Sinfield added the extras for 6-16, Wigan needed a miracle to keep third place.

It was surely game over within minutes as Leeds went in again as Watkins hit a grubber kick from 10m and collected his own kick to go over for the try to the cheers of the Rhinos fans and the groans of the home fans who had a small cheer when Sinfield missed the goal, 6-20.

Wigan pushed to score but to no avail and as the hooter sounded it confirmed another miserable defeat for Wigan and their third in succession in the league and meant that they would finish fourth in the table and as such travel to face League Leaders Huddersfield on Thursday in Play-offs Week One.

Another failed prediction but the result was clear after the hour mark as Wigan were struggling to get anywhere partially due to consistently poor refereeing by Silverwood who in a five minute period in the second half missed six clear forward passes by Leeds so if this is the state of the referees in Super League then the next game is going to be a massive challenge.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Warriors V Rhinos on a Thursday!

Thanks to Sky TV and the RFL, one of the biggest games of the season which should be the finale of the final regular round is instead the first game of the weekend and is broadcast on Thursday due to the new schedules.

Wigan host Leeds in a winner take all clash that sees the two battling to finish third with the result a trip to Warrington in the play-offs and the loser placing fourth and facing a trip to League Leaders Shield winners Huddersfield.

Both sides will wear a limited edition shirt featuring the famous Superman 'S' as a publicity stunt for the upcoming release of the film Man of Steel in December and is apt being that the current Man Of Steel, Sam Tomkins will play on Thursday night.

Many fans see a trip to Warrington the more daunting and as such wouldn't mind their team losing in order to get an 'easier' draw but personally we had this situation last year with a good amount of Warriors fans glad when Saints won at the DW on the final weekend only to then celebrate claiming the League Leaders Shield.

Wigan really need a win to stem their dip in form which had seen defeats to Hull and Huddersfield either side of their Wembley triumph and a third straight league defeat would not be a good impetus for the play-offs. Leeds go into the Wigan trip on the back of a close win over Catalan but with a preceding defeat to Hull KR, their form needs a boost.

Good news for Wigan is that Ryan Bailey is suspended for the game as he has been a thorn in their side and also the return of  Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Pat Richards, Blake Green, Matty Smith, Michael McIlorum. Lee Mossop, Harrison Hansen and Liam Farrell to the squad. but skipper Sean O'Loughlin misses the game though with a calf injury.

Leeds welcome back Rob Burrow and Alex Foster is included after Bailey's suspension, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Brett Delaney also return from injury

Wigan - Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Andy Powell, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Sam Tomkins, Logan Tomkins, Chris Tuson

Leeds - Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones- Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Kevin Sinfield, Brett Delaney, Alex Foster, Ian Kirke, Chris Clarkson, Mitch Achurch, Brad Singleton, Liam Sutcliffe.

 Both meetings this season have been won with less than a converted try as the deficit between the sides so I anticipate a similar outcome this week and as such will go for Wigan 24 Leeds 20.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Hull Claim Last Gasp Revenge Over Youthful Warriors

The previews called it 'The Rematch' after Wigan defeated Hull at Wembley on Saturday but when Wigan announced a 19 bereft of most of the Wembley heroes, the mood among the fans was that it was a team of under 19's that would struggle against a more experienced Hull FC.

Wigan handed a senior debut to 19's star winger Dom Manfredi and Ryan Hampshire moved from the traditional full back position to play in the halves while Lewis Tierney took his place at the back.

The early stages saw the home side break with a good chance to open the scoring but Jack Hughes found himself with no support and offloaded to thin air as the move broke down and Hull gained the advantage and took it as Holdsworth threw a long pass to an unmarked Crookes who went over in the corner which was added to by Tickle's successful conversion for 0-6.

Hull threw away the chance to score in the next set after a forward pass and both sides exchanged set after set with the score remaining at 0-6 until the introduction of former Welsh Rugby Union International Andy Powell in the 19th minute which  added more power to the Wigan attack and minutes later he broke the Hull defensive line and raced clear to the awe of the home fans who went wild as he went over for his first Warriors try which was converted by Hampshire for 6 all.

Wigan gave the ball away from the kick off as nerves got the better of Manfredi and he knocked on and within five minutes, Hull were back in front as Shaul combined with Holdsworth and Yeaman to pick out Briscoe who went over in the corner and again Tickle converted superbly for 6-12.

Crookes couldn't believe his luck when he was in open space to take a catch but fine defence from Burgess and Thornley denied him a second try which gave Wigan hope and they soon levelled minutes before the interval as a short pass from Tomkins saw Flower go over for the try and Hampshire duly converted for 12 all.

12 all at halftime would have been welcomed by the home fans but seconds before the hooter, Wigan took the lead with and amazing piece of pace by Hampshire as he was picked out by the breaking Gelling and even though he missed the conversion he put the young Warriors 16-12 up at half time.

Hull were split wide open by a succession of kicks by Hampshire but his momentum evaded him as he went to touchdown over the line but was applauded for the effort by the home fans who were enjoying seeing the youngster fool the Hull defenders who were soon ruing a penalty as Wigan sprayed the ball out to the wing and for Joe Burgess to slide over in the corner for his first Warriors try and well deserved after his recent performances and an amazing kick from Hampshire gave Wigan a 22-12 lead .

Wigan were on fire as Sam Powell kicked an awesome 40/20, that Matty Smith would be proud of and gave them great field position and Powell kicked again with Thornley collecting for the try and the miss by Hampshire from the kick still saw Wigan move to 26-12 and in a commanding position.

Shaul broke away for Hull and Wigan were pegged back as Crookes was again left alone on the wing to take the ball and score his second try, Tickle missed the goal but the deficit was only ten at 26-16.
Crookes seemed to be invisible to the Wigan defence as within minutes he racked up his hat-trick after a long pass from the middle and with Tickle's goal, Wigan were pegged right back at 26-22.

Hull now had the momentum and with Manfredi tackled in goal, they were awarded a goal-line dropout and Wigan were soon penalised again which saw Westerman go over just to the left of the posts and just like that Hull were level as Tickle missed a simple kick from in front of the posts at 26 all.

Wigan needed to get back their earlier form and did so via a jaw-dropping boot from Powell which flew into the air and was allowed to bounce by Shaul oblivious to the chasing Gelling who collected the ball and went over for the try to a roar from the home fans and Hampshire's goal made it 32-26.

Sam Powell sent over a drop goal to hand Wigan a 33-32 lead but Hull closed to a single point deficit  amongst controversy as the clock had been stopped at '5.03' and had not resumed when Briscoe went in for the try to bemusement from the home fans and Tickle kicked for 33-32.

Hull pulled level on the next set as Holdsworth kicked a drop goal to set up a tense finish but from a scrum, Powell instantly went for goal but saw his effort sail wide and Hull went down the other end to seal the win with Holdsworth kicking his second drop goal to the heartbreak of the Wigan faithful. 

Despite the loss, the Wigan crowd applauded the young lads who had become men on the DW stage and it was cruel for them to lose having pushed Hull all the way but their inexperience did cost them as Powell's late attempt may not have been rushed had he been advised to wait until in a better position but the question is whether he thought it was the final seconds and just went for the win.

Many others and myself said that the game was far better than at Wembley and even though it was a loss it was an amazing performance by a team of young lads who have shown that for Wigan the future is not only Cherry and White but truly bright.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wigan v Hull - The Rematch

Friday night sees the Challenge Cup finalists face each other for the second time in a week as Hull look for revenge for the nilling they suffered as Wigan were victorious at Wembley on Saturday.

Wigan are looking to go unbeaten over three games against Hull this year which began with a tight encounter in April which Wigan won 20-28 thanks to a succession of penalties by Pat Richards late on. Hull will be looking to prevent that and claim a win that would give them momentum going into the final round and the playoffs.

Due to the celebrations and homecoming parade by Wigan on Monday, it was always likely that a 'weakened' side would be named for the league game and and that is why the likes of Richards, Charnley, Farrell, Tomkins and McIlorum are rested with Goulding and O'Loughlin are injured.

This means a debut spot the 19 for Dom Manfredi who has excelled for the under 19's while the other 18 all have some experience with Dudson, Flower, Gelling, Thornley, Tuson and Tomkins all having played over half of the league games this season.

Hull include Josh Bowden, Dean Hadley, Paul Johnson and Liam Kent who replace the injured Gareth Ellis, Andy Lynch and Mark O’Meley, while former New Zealand hooker Aaron Heremaia is suspended after taking an Early Guilty Plea to a dangerous tackle in the Wembley defeat.

Wigan- Joe Burgess, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, James Greenwood, Jack Hughes, Ryan Hampshire, Rhodri Lloyd, Dominic Manfredi, Andy Powell, Sam Powell, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Lewis Tierney, Logan Tomkins, Chris Tuson, Tom Spencer, George Williams.

Hull - Briscoe, Bowden, Crookes, Crooks, Green, Hadley, Horne, Holdsworth, Houghton, Johnson, Kent, Miller, Pitts, Shaul, Tickle, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman

If this game had been at a different time of the season, the squad for Wigan would be stronger but as the league means nothing anymore compare to the playoffs, Wigan have rested and can go as far as playing a completely different 13 from Saturday and if so I would go for a win for Hull as the quest for revenge will prove to be the main factor. Wigan 24 Hull 28. If Wigan play the experienced lads in the 19 then would go for Wigan 24 Hull 20.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Wigan Nil Hull In Wembley Win

Sam Tomkins' late try sealed a 19th Challenge Cup for Wigan over an error-strewn Hull FC.

Both sides were cautious in the build-up due to the heavy rain but from the kick-off, Richards kicked out on the full to give Hull a penalty and put pressure on Wigan but good defence kept them out.

Green forces a mistake from Crooks and Richards went over the line only to be held up on his back but Wigan pushed and earned two dropouts as Hull scrambled defensively.

But on the 20 minute mark, a knock on by Crooks have Wigan field position and Thornley took advantage by evading a Tickle tackle to go over for the opening try which joined by Richards' kick saw Wigan lead 6-0.
They could have been further ahead as McIlorum spied a gap but Yeaman denied a second try. Miller fumbled and from the scrum, McIlorum had a chance but lost the ball near the line 

Crooks could have cost Hull again in the 32nd minute but they pushed on and came close to levelling only for Tickle to drop near the try line.

As the hooter blasted, Smith attempted a drop goal but narrowly missed meaning Wigan led 6-0 at the interval.

Hull went 8-0 behind inside two minutes of the second period as Whiting committed a High Tackle on Taylor and Richards successfully kicked for goal.

Hull should have scored in the 48th minute as a break by Shaul saw him caught and denied a certain try by a lightning chase by Charnley not dissimilar to the save he made on Brough last week.

A long delay ensured as Goulding was carried off on a stretcher and with Hull in a great position, they knocked on and a resulting kick from Smith forced a dropout with Shaul tackled in goal.

8-0 became 10-0 as Richards kicked a penalty after O'Loughlin was taken out and the fans behind the sticks gasped as the kick bounced over via the post.

Hull pushed to close the gap but errors crept in and a vital win for Wigan was completed as Sam Tomkins went over to a chaotic cheer by the fans in front of him and Richards' kick meant an unassailable 16-0.

Matty Smith received the Lance Todd trophy as man of the match and Wigan celebrated a 19th Challenge Cup title with their fans .

A way off the prediction but the result matters more as I completed a lifelong dream and a unique trilogy with today joining my Grand Final win of 2010 and the League Leaders Shield win from last year but for Hull, revenge can be served as soon as Friday night at the DW.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Challenge Cup Final Sees Wigan Play Hull

Back in October, 40 teams played in the First Qualifying round with the dream of gracing Wembley in a showpiece final and across the year a further 56 teams have taken part in the quest for glory but tomorrow sees the remaining two sides meet in a repeat of the classic '85 final.

Hull FC and Wigan Warriors face off to become the 2013 Challenge Cup winners with Wigan looking for their nineteenth title and Hull their fourth while also hoping to avenge the defeat they suffered in the 1985 clash.

Wigan go into the final as favourites after they eased past London but many neutrals will favour Hull after the amazing performance they showed in crusing over Warrington in the semi final in what was a shock result with a Wigan/Warrington final being the prediction at the start of the season.

Wigan welcome back Darrell Goulding and captain Sean O'Loughlin with the latter being a factor for many as to why Wigan have had such bad recent form but the squad picked is as strong as is possible so there should be no excuses this time round.

Hull recall Mark O'Meley, Richard Horne and Ben Crooks but Joe Arundel and the influential Tom Lineham are missing due to injury and are also likely to miss the 'rematch' between the two sides in the Super League on Friday.

Wigan - Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson

Hull -Briscoe, Crookes, Crooks, Ellis, Green, Heremaia, Horne, Holdsworth, Houghton, Lynch, Miller, O'Meley, Pitts, Shaul, Tickle, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman

Form goes out of the window when it comes to the cup and for Wigan that is a blessing but I think that with a number of players who have experienced major finals, they will come away as winners so I am going for Wigan 30 Hull 18

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dragons Flying Win Over Warriors

Wembley is a just under a week away as Wigan travelled to the South of France to face Catalan with hopes of going second in the table after Warrington's shock loss on Thursday.

Wigan started well with their best chance coming as Richards powered down the wing but was denied by the defending Blanch who tackled him into touch, Catalan posted the opening try as Vaccardi went over from Webb's pass but referee Ben Thaler went to the screen and after a long delay the try was awarded with Bosc kicking to lead 6-0.

Wigan had a double chance to level the score as Green kicked through after a break by Charnley but the kick went dead and set up Farrell only to be denied aftet the pass was deemed to be forward.

However, Wigan were level just before the interval as a short pass from Logan Tomkins set up Scott Taylor who flew past Fakir to go over under the posts and an easy kick from Richards made it 6 all.

Recently it has been Wigan's indiscipline has cost them and today was no different as straight after the break, Bosc kicked a penalty to give Catalan an 8-6 lead but soon Richards kicked a penalty and the scores were level at 8 all.

Unfortunately, that was Wigan's last score of the evening and Catalan edged ahead as Bosc kicked  two further penalties to make it 12-6 which soon became 16-6 as Menzies scored a try in the 63rd minute.

Pelissier slipped past Hansen and Dudson to increase the Dragons lead and Bosc's 5th goal made it 22-8, Wigan did have a chance to reduce the deficit as Smith's 40-20 missed touch but allowed Charnley to create a chance which sadly was ruled unsuccessful and confirmed a second consecutive loss and meant Wigan's hopes of retaining the League Leaders Shield are looking very unlikely as they stay third.

As the next game sees Wigan face Hull in the CC final, I like many people on the forums hoped for a win to build confidence ahead of the tie but after the humbling in Perpignan and the defeat last week to Huddersfield it seems the excitement of the showpiece final has slipped as confidence is low and the last thing anyone wants is to be on a long coach ride home after losing to a team we then face days later in the league.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Warriors Travel To France to Face Dragons

The trip to Wembley is only a week away as Wigan make the long trip to Perpignan to face Catalan in what is a critical game in the chase for the League Leaders Shield and the play-offs despite some fans suggesting the game is nothing in comparison to the Challenge Cup Final.

Due to a bad run of form, Wigan need to win on Saturday to have any chance of retaining the LLS and face Catalan who like themselves have had mixed form but came away from Bradford last week with a 22-23 victory to surely confirm a play-off place.

Catalan are sat in sixth but with Saints two points ahead in 5th and Bradford only six points and a slight points difference behind in ninth, a win is a must to try and secure a home draw in the play-offs while for Wigan, the joy of seeing rivals Warrington stunned by Widnes last night means a win pushes them back to second place ahead of the double-header with  Hull.

Both sides have injury concerns with Catalan missing Louis Anderson, Jason Baitieri Zeb Taia, Mickael Simon, Daryl Millard, and Rémi Casty while Wigan are without Sean O'Loughlin and Darrell Goulding but Sam Tomkins does travel amid rumours that he will be announced next week as a signing for the NRL's New Zealand Warriors.

Catalan -Brent Webb, Damien Blanch, Leon Pryce, Thomas Bosc, Scott Dureau, Olivier Elima, Ian Henderson, Steve Menzies, Greg Mounis, Antoni Maria,  Eloi Pelissier, Kevin Larroyer,  Julian Bousquet, Jamal Fakir, Lopini Paea, Vincent Duport, Frédéric Vaccari, Elliott Whitehead, Benjamin Garcia.

Wigan -Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson.

Recent meetings have seen Wigan come out top including earlier this season as they won 38-0 at the DW but this time I think will be closer so I am going for Catalan 18 Wigan 30

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Giants Clear After Defeating Warriors

Wigan missed the chance to regain top spot from Huddersfield after going down to a 12-30 defeat as the Giants completed a double over the Warriors .

The pre-match headline was the news that Sam Tomkins was out with a back spasm and as a result, Ryan Hampshire had to deputise for a second week after coming in last minute against Hull KR.

Wigan started the better and after two minutes went over for a try through Hansen but Child went to the screen and on review it wad judged that Hansen was held up so Wigan went back to the 10m for the 5th tackle and superb kick by Green was palmed by Charnley for Sam Powell to dive on for the opening try. Richards added the extras and Wigan were off to a flying start at 6-0.

Huddersfield should have pulled back within minutes with two chances to score, the first saw Crabtree knock on with the try line in sight and the second came as Brough intercepted a pass and raced clear only to be caught and tackled by Wigan's answer to Usain Bolt in Josh Charnley who miraclulously caught Brough up after trailing at the interception.

Huddersfield did level the score but it took until the 16th minute as Brough kicked into open space on the left and Murphy went over for an easy try which suprisingly was given via the video referee when it was clear from sitting in the stands but Brough added the extras for 6 all.

The game came to life in the 27th minute as deputising full back Hampshire's quick hands to Goulding allowed him to pick out Charnley who bolted past a Giants defender before whizzing past the covering Brough and under the sticks for his 39th try of the season and surely must be a contender for Man of Steel this season with former winner Pat Richards adding the extras for a 12-6 lead.

However, Huddersfield levelled again as Chan went over after Wigan conceded a penalty and Brough's kick made it 12 all but he could habe sent his side into the break in front as right on the hooter, he attempted a drop goal from 40 metres out which sailed wide so 12 all at half time.

Huddersfield made the perfect start to the second half with a controversial try as Ferres went over and was awarded the try by Child but in the build-up it was clear that a blatant forward pass had been seen by all but the referee and as Brough missed the goal the jeers of the Wigan fans turned to boos for Child who somehow didn't see the forward pass.

Brough tried to make up for his conversion miss with a penalty goal minutes later after Powell was penalised for being offside but the kick missed and the lead remained at four points.

Four soon became ten just before the hour as Grix hit a grubber through the Warriors defence only to somehow get to it before the Wigan runners did and he touched down for the try and this time Brough hit a clever conversion for a score of 12-22 leaving Wigan with much to do to win.

Wigan's hopes were dented as Murphy hit his second try as he was set up by Wardle and raced through the Wigan defence to score and with Brough's goal, Huddersfield had a 12-28 lead. Wigan soon thought they had scored as Green went for the try and Child went to the screen but to the groans of the Wigan fans, Green was shown to have touched down short of the line .

Huddersfield extended their lead and guaranteed a three point lead in the league table as Lauaki conceded a penalty and Brough kicked successfully for a lead of 18 points at 12-30 which was the final score as the hooter sounded making Wigan's hopes of the treble slim and putting Huddersfield favourites for the League Leaders Shield with three rounds to go.

A bad night for Wigan on the night that the heroes of the past graced the DW pitch but it was the sight of current hero Sam Tomkins sat in the dugout that had the fans pre-match hopes go from hopeful to cautious which has become the tradition when the fullback has been missing. At the time of writing, Wigan sadly sit third in the table after Warrington beat Wakefield yesterday and with a tough trip to Catalan in a week it will take a big effort to regain top two status.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Top Two Face Off At The DW On Heritage Day

Friday night sees the battle of the league's top two at the DW as Huddersfield who are currently a single point clear at the top make the trip to second place Wigan who are celebrating their annual Heritage Day.

This year's Heritage Day sees Wigan hand out Heritage numbers to current and past players with the landmark #1000 being current number nine - Michael McIlorum and the legendary Billy Boston being #553.

Huddersfield will be looking for their first double over Wigan since 2009 which saw them win 8-22 and 48-16 and after a 22-10 win at the John Smith's stadium back in February against a Wigan side minus Sam Tomkins among others, they will be wary of a tougher game from Wigan.

Good news for the Warriors fans is that this time around Sam Tomkins is fit to face the Giants alongside returns for Pat Richards, Liam Farrell and Gil Dudson but unfortunately Matty Smith, Ben Flower and captain Sean O'Loughlin all miss out due to leg injuries.

Huddersfield welcome back Shaun Lunt, Jason Chan and Dale Ferguson as they hope to go three points clear at the top of the league and give themsleves a great chance of a first League Leaders Shield.

Wigan: Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hansen, Hughes, Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, S. Powell, Richards, Taylor, Thornley, L. Tomkins, S. Tomkins, Tuson.
Huddersfield: Grix, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Faiumu, Lawrence, Patrick, Chan, Ta'ai, Murphy, Cording, Ferguson, Wood.

The returns coupled with the trio who miss out may make this a very close game but I think as Huddersfield have only the League to focus on they will go for broke and could come unstuck so I am going for a tight Wigan win of Wigan 24 Huddersfield 20.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Wigan Defeat Hull KR To Go Top

Wigan's return to Super League action saw a narrow 21-16 win over a resilient Hull KR on Friday night to send them back to the top of the league.

Wigan handed a debut to Joe Burgess on the wing and a late dropout by Sam Tomkins due to illness saw Ryan Hampshire take his place at full back while three former Warriors lined up for the Rovers, Sean Gleeson, Michael Dobson and David Hodgson.

The early stages saw both sides exchange penalties and Wigan had a great chance to open the scoring only for Hansen to knock on with the try line in sight and a bad injury to Cox caused a long delay in play but luckily he was able to walk rather than be stretchered off.

Wigan took the lead in the 13th minute after a superb run by Hall saw him put into touch by Burgess who then went on an amazing run which included quick hands from Wigan to enable Charnley to go in for the try in open space but failing to convert his own try put the score at 4-0.

Rovers responded in the 17th minute as a pacy run and pass by Mika allowed full back Greg Eden over for a try through a gap in the defence and an easy goal by Dobson handed Rovers a 4-6 lead.

Both sides exchanged penalties as they committed a number of errors and Rovers extended their lead in the 35th minute as a quick run by Dobson split the Wigan defence and went over for an easy try which but his missed conversion made it a six point gap at 4-10.

Wigan attempted to level the score and a succession of penalties saw Rovers given a team warning and Lauaki looked to have scored a comeback try but on review he had come up short but within minutes, Wigan were back level as a Smith kick was taken by Charnley who set up the in-running Goulding for a try right on the hooter and Charnley's successful kick made it 10 all at the break.

As the second half began,  Rovers knew the next penalty would see them drop to 12 men temporarily and it took barely five minutes as Withers was sin binned for a professional foul on Hampshire and Wigan took advantage as Smith's quick pass saw Goulding pick out Charnley who went over for the try.

Silverwood went to the screen and after extensive review the try was awarded as Charnley was at full stretch to touchdown and despite missing the goal, Wigan led 14-10 but it could have been even better for Wigan as Charnley went in again after a clever kick from Goulding but on review it was deemed he had 'bounced' the ball in touching down so the lead remained at four.

The crowd roared as Burgess raced down the wing looking for his first senior try but put a foot in touch as he attempted to touch down as the Rovers defence was stretched but they were denied a try of their own ust after the hour mark as Hodgson went over only to be denied after he was in touch on the review.

Wigan extended their lead as Gelling went in with six minutes to go to put the score at 20-10 and a drop goal from Smith surely sealed the win at 21-10 but Hull KR were not accepting that as Tuimavave went over for a try and Dobson's goal created a tense final few minutes at 21-16.

David Hodgson came close to sealing a last gasp try for Hull KR but was tackled by great Wigan defence who put him in touch and meant Wigan held on for the win and and returned to the summit of Super League.

A really tight game from start to finish which was surprising given that Rovers had an extra week off but with no Sam Tomkins in the Wigan it created a balance and my prediction of a 18 point Wigan win was with Tomkins included and had I known of his absence would have gone for a closer win.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Wigan host Hull KR

A Challenge Cup final place at Wembley booked for the 24th, Wigan turn their focus back to the fight for the League Leaders Shield by hosting Hull KR on Friday.

Rovers will be hoping to get revenge on the Warriors for the 84-6 humiliation they suffered in April in the reverse fixture while also hoping for a maiden win in 2013 against Wigan having also been knocked out of the Challenge Cup at MS3 Craven Park back in May by 46-14.

Wigan on the other hand will be looking to complete a treble of victories and in turn return to the Super League summit and as KR are currently sixth in the table, the game will not be an easy one as St Helens can prove having themselves fallen to defeat three times this season including an exit from the Challenge Cup.

Despite Rovers' high placing in the table, Wigan have a packed run-in to the play-offs and as such have rested Pat Richards and Liam Farrell from the 19 along with the injured Dudson while there is a debut in the squad for Joe Burgess and the return of Epalahame Lauaki after a lenghty period on the sidelines. 

Wigan - Joe Burgess, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Epalahame Lauaki, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson.

Hull KR - Liam Salter, Jason Netherton, Adam Walker, Sean Gleeson, Evarn Tuimavave, Jordan Cox, Con Mika, Travis Burns, Keal Carlile, Rich Beaumont, Craig Hall, Mickey Paea, David Hodgson, Rhys Lovegrove, Michael Dobson, Lincoln Withers, Greg Eden, Tyla Hepi, Josh Hodgson.

Due to Hull KR having not played since the defeat to Warrington on the 21st July, they will be far fresher than Wigan who have had six days since the Semi Final win over London and as such I am going for a Wigan win but a closer one than usual at Wigan 36 Hull KR 18

Monday, 29 July 2013

Wigan Cruise Past London To Reach Final

Wigan booked their place in the 2013 Tetley's Challenge Cup Final after a crushing 70-0 win over the London Broncos scoring 12 unanswered tries.

Wigan welcomed back Sam Tomkins, Harrison Hansen and Sean O'Loughlin who all missed out at St Helens and Iain Thornley replaced the injured Anthony Gelling and London were missing Tony Clubb and Michael Witt.

Wigan started the better and took the lead in the 10th minute as a quick break from Goulding split the London defence and saw him race clear and over the line with Richards adding the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

The lead should have been extended six minutes later as Wigan were awarded a penalty but in choosing to kick for goal, Richards hit the kick wide but the lead did increase four minutes later as quick hands from O'Loughlin and Green set up Mossop for the game's second try which was added to by Richards' conversion for 12-0.

London fell further behind two minutes later as Sam Tomkins went over from close range and Richards kicked for a three score lead at 18-0. London's indiscipline was costly as Wigan got good field position and a kick from Smith cannoned off the post and into the waiting hands of Green who scored the try with Richards adding the extras for 24-0.

Wigan were in again as Richards was picked out by Iain Thornley and Sam Tomkins from out wide and the full back set up Richards for a nice try and with 32 minutes gone, his conversion made it 30-0. O'Loughlin raced past a couple of tackles and found Charnley who went in for Wigan's sixth try but proving he is only human, Richards missed but with 28 points in 14 minutes it seemed to easy for Wigan as they lead 34-0 into the break.

Suprisingly, it took Wigan until the 47th minute to extend the lead but nice play saw Scott Taylor go in under the posts to the chant of 'One Scott Taylor' from the Warriors fans on the terrace and Richards hit the goal for a 40-0 lead. Smith was next on the score sheet as he spotted a gap in the London defence to dash through and over in the 51st minute as the fans went wild with Richards making it a 46-0 lead from the boot.

As the hour mark drew close, a great pass from O'Loughlin found Richards in open space and he strolled over for his second of the gameand brought up the 50 point mark before converting for 52-0.

It was becoming a case of not if Wigan would score again but when and how big a win would it be with London hoping not to be the first side nilled in a semi since Hull KR in 2006 and Farrell struck next as Richards kicked for 58-0. Iain Thornley cut inside a tired London defence for a nice try which Richards added his 10th conversion for 64-0.

The humilation for London ended with Charnley hitting his second try and Richards kicking to reach 70 points and securing a double record for Wigan with the highest semi final win beating their own 71-10 win over Bradford in 1992 and personally breaking Frano Botica's record from the '92 semi with 30 points.

Many expected a Wigan win but few predicted such a crushing win, my own prediction of 40-12 was a total score that Wigan hit within an hour but a good game despite the small attendance and the joy of celebrating and booking a dream trip to Wembley made for a great day.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Warriors Face Broncos In Semi

After a disappointing defeat away to St Helens on Monday, Wigan make the short trip to Leigh Sports Village to face London Broncos in the Challenge Cup Semi Final.

Wigan will be very confident after putting 112 points past London over the two league meetings this season but many fans are erring with caution as back in 2007, they faced a Catalans side who were in a similar position to London as they had defeated them 30-0 weeks earlier only to be beaten 24-37.

Wigan welcome back Sam Tomkins, Harrison Hansen and Sean O'Loughlin while Iain Thornley replaces the injured Anthony Gelling.

London have Tony Clubb and Michael Witt missing but are able to include Wigan loanee Rhodri Lloyd and their new star Jamie Soward.

 Wigan -Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson

London Broncos: Bryant, Colbon, Cook, Dorn, Fairbank, Fisher, Kaufusi, Krasniqi, Lee, Lloyd, McMeeken, Melling, O'Callaghan, Robertson, Rodney, Sarginson, Soward, Woodburn-Hall, Wheeldon.

The trio returning for Wigan makes me think that London will need a miracle to reach the final and as such I am going for Wigan 48 London 12.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Warriors Indiscipline Sees Saints Win

Huddersfield's victory on Sunday meant the pressure was on Wigan to return to the top of Super League as they travelled to Langtree Park to face St Helens.

Wigan fans were cautious in the build-up to the game with the mercurial Sam Tomkins and the talismanic Sean O'Loughlin and Harrison Hansen missing against a Saints team in great form.

So it was no surprise that Saints made the better start as McCarthy-Scarsbrook found a gap in the middle but was only denied by a superb tackle by Hampshire, but Saints forced a drop-out and were soon over for the opening score as Meli offloaded to Swift who raced over the line and O'Brien added the extras for a 6-0 lead.

Swift was soon in for his second with Lomax being the provider by spotting a gap in the Wigan defence and giving the winger an easy run to the line which was added to by O'Brien's conversion for a 12-0 lead inside 17 minutes.

Wigan needed a response but a knock on on the Saints line followed by a forward pass from Green to Gelling took the pressure off but the were rewarded in the 25th minute as Hampshire earned a penalty after being taken out after a grubber and a set of quick hands to the left saw Richards in space  to go over for a super try but miss the conversion to make it 12-4.

Both sides pushed for the next try and just before the interval, Wigan gave themselves hope of a comeback as a high diagonal kick from former Saint Matty Smith was knocked by Swift leaving Charnley with an easy touchdown in the corner but again Richards missed so Wigan were 12-8 behind into the break.

Saints could have had a perfect start to the second period as substitute Greenwood raced clear only to  drop the ball on the line after superb pressure by Hampshire and the full back had his reward as a slick one handed flick to Charnley sent the winger racing over the line to put Wigan in front as Richards added the extras for a 12-14 lead.

Wigan were penalised as Taylor went in hard on O'Brien who left the field which saw Taylor put on report and Makinson kick the penalty to being the score level at 14 all. Wigan pushed on the next set but on the 5th tackle, the entire stadium was in awe as Richards arrowed a kick from the touchline that flew over the posts for a drop goal from 40 metres and sent the East stand wild as Wigan led 14-15.

Wigan's discipline cost them again as Dudson was penalised for foul play and Wigan were put on a Team Warning but Makinson surprisingly missed the penalty and minutes later repeated his failure from a similar position to leave Saints 14-15 behind when they should have led 18-15.

The lack of a leader for Wigan was clear as another incident this time for offside saw Green sin binned and Turner took over the kicking duties and dispatched the penalty to put Saints 16-15 up.

Smith hit a drop goal for Wigan to level the scores but to no avail as in the final minutes a break by Makinson from his own line to 10 metres from the Wigan line allowed Greenwood to race over the line and sent the Saints faithful wild as Turner added the extras to give Saints a 22-16 lead and break Wigan hearts.

The hooter sounded and Saints celebrated a famous win while Wigan reflected on a third defeat in four and a second consecutive away loss after leading with ten minutes remaining at Wire and here at Saints.

The thoughts now move to a crucial Challenge Cup Semi Final against London on Saturday but a defeat in the derby is always hard to take with hopes that revenge may come in the end of season playoffs.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Warriors Travel To Face Saints

Wigan make the short trip over to St Helens for the derby fixture at Langtree Park tomorrow while hoping to reclaim top spot should Huddersfield win today.

Wigan hold the advantage of ruining Saints first home derby at Langtree Park last year after ruining their last derby at Knowsley Road back in 2010 so Saints would like to finally claim a home victory over their rivals.

Wigan have won four of the last six against Saints but lost on the final day last year while claiming the League Leaders Shield so both love to ruin each others celebrations and with Wigan reaching the Challenge Cup Semis, confidence is high despite the side-lining of Sam Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin and Harrison Hansen.

Wigan include the returning Scott Taylor and will surely hand Ryan Hampshire the full back slot after scoring his first try in the win over Widnes while Saints include Anthony Laffranchi who returns from compassionate leave whilst Stuart Howarth is recalled for the injured James Roby.

Saints - 1. Paul Wellens, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 16. Paul Clough, 19. Josh Jones, 21. Tom Makinson, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 33. Luke Thompson, 36. Stuart Howarth, 37. Gareth O'Brien, 38. Greg Richards.

Wigan - 2. Josh Charnley, 3. Darrell Goulding, 4. Jack Hughes, 5. Pat Richards, 6. Blake Green, 7. Matty Smith, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Lee Mossop, 12. Liam Farrell, 15. Ben Flower, 16. Chris Tuson, 20. Gil Dudson, 21.Scott Taylor, 22. Anthony Gelling, 23. Logan Tomkins, 24. Sam Powell, 26. Dominic Crosby, 29. Greg Burke, 32. Ryan Hampshire.

As the semi final is under a week away, Wigan may need to get ahead and kill Saints off early so as not to burn out for the semi but I will go for a Wigan win of 36-12.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Warriors Crush Vikings To Reach Semi

Wigan sealed a place in the Challenge Cup Semi Final against London with a crushing win over an error-strewn Widnes last night.

Wigan welcomed back Sam Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin to the side after being sidelined in recent weeks and were influential early on as Green broke away only to fumble with the line in sight.

Widnes lost possession in a series of errors which saw Charnley scoop up the ball and race down the wing to score under the sticks to wild applause from the home fans and Richards' easy conversion put Wigan 6-0 up.

Two minutes later, Widnes fooled around with the ball with three fumbles in succession and again Charnley was on hand to collect the ball and race unchallenged to the line and seal the easiest brace of his career with another easy kick from Richards making it 12-0.

Widnes fell three scores behind inside 18 minutes as a superb pass from Green to Hansen sent him clear and in racing towards the line, he picked out Tomkins in support who flew over the line for an easy score and Richards hit a third conversion for an 18-0 lead.

Widnes needed to stop their errors to prevent a thrashing but they failed to learn their lesson as another error in the 20th minute saw a carbon copy of the previous try as Hansen picked out Tomkins who went over only to be denied via the Video Ref and Widnes blushes were saved with a scrum awarded.

Wigan couldn't believe their look as Hansen broke clear and found Farrell who had three in support and offloaded to Smith who went over for a superb try and Richards converted for a 24-0 lead and Widnes were quickly falling out of the game. Widnes had a great chance in the 31st minute as Ah Van broke away down the wing but the lack of support saw him tackled before the line but he did get on the score sheet within a minute as a slick kick by Brown was collected by the winger who swept over for the try with Owens missing the conversion, Widnes were 24-4 behind.

Brown went from hero to villain as an erroneous pass saw Charnley collect and race 90 metres to score and seal a gifted hat trick - scoring all three without receiving a pass and Richards kept up his 100% success rate with the conversion for a half time lead of 30-4.

Widnes needed a good start to the second half to keep the chance of a comeback hopeful but from the kick off they conceded a drop-out with the catch being in touch and Wigan used the gift as Farrell raced clear to the line after a nice pass from O'Loughlin to widen the gap as Richards kicked for a 36-4 lead.

Wigan took Tomkins off with the job seemingly done and on came young Hampshire to deputise at full back and minutes later, O'Loughlin also came off with Dudson replacing him and the Welshman made an instant impact by collecting a pass from Green to race towards the line and pick out Hampshire who went over for his first senior try in Cherry and White and Richards made it 42-4 with his seventh conversion.

An error from Wigan prevented them from extending the lead as a Goulding intercepted a Widnes pass only to drop with a clear field ahead of him but Wigan did hit an eighth try in the 66th minute as a drop by Mellor saw Green collect and race to the line for a well deserved try with Richards kicking for a 48-4 lead.

Widnes needed a miracle and nearly hit back as Hanbury broke the Wigan line but a pass to Phelps was fumbled and Wigan regained possession, but Widnes soon had a another go and Hanbury and Clarke combined to pick out Ah Van but the winger's pass couldn't find Phelps and meant another chance wasted.

The final seconds ticked down and Ah Van tested the Wigan line only to be forced into touch followed by celebration by the Wigan players as the hooter sounded to confirm a comfortable win and seal a tie against London in a fortnight.

A good game made easy by Widnes' errors and prediction wise, 36-12 was looking on until Widnes collapsed in the second half but 48-4 not too far off but the negative was the attendance as 6.327 is poor. The game may have been on TV but so will Saints on Monday and there will be twice the crowd so there is no excuse why it was so empty.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Warriors Host Vikings In Challenge Cup

After a long wait since the draw back in May, Wigan return to the Challenge Cup by playing host to Widnes who they have twice beaten this season.

Widnes will have some confidence having come close to victory in the last meeting only to lose late on by 32-33 after a youthful Wigan side edged them out. This time round Wigan will be stronger so Widnes will need to up their game in order to take a step closer to a famous Wembley final.

Since the last meeting, Wigan have lost twice (Warrington/Castleford) and have failed to rack up more than 30 points in a game so Widnes know that the Wigan attack will be lacking in confidence and can try to capitalise. Wigan have also been lacking in defence so a massive turnaround is needed in order to claim a place in the semi-finals.

Wigan welcome back the talismanic Sam Tomkins and O'Loughlin to the 19 man squad but both are 90% to play so Hampshire and Tuson may continue at 1 and 13.

Wigan Warriors: Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Flower, Goulding, Burke, Hansen, Hughes, Tuson, Mossop, O'Loughlin, Green, Richards, Smith, Farrell, Gelling, Hampshire, S. Tomkins, McIlorum.
Widnes Vikings: Ah Van, Allen, K. Brown, Cahill, Clarke, Craven, Gerrard, Gore, Hanbury, Isa, Joseph, Kavanagh, Lawton, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, O'Carroll, Owens, Winterstein.

As it is a cup tie, form goes out the window but I feel with a tough run-in that Wigan will come through strong and seal a place in the next round so I am going for Wigan 36 Widnes 12.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Warriors Snatch Win From Bulls

A last minute try by Chris Tuson secured a vital win for Wigan which kept them top of the table after a massive comeback in the final minutes against a resilient Bradford who led 14-20.

Wigan got off to an amazing start with the opening try inside two minutes as debutant Hampshire fired a pass to Thornley who raced through the defence and picked out Charnley who ran clear over the line for the try but a difficult conversion was missed by Richards and Wigan led 4-0.

Bradford hit back in the 15th minute as a break down the left by Foster allowed Platt to get in good space and collect the ball before going over for the try which was well converted by Foster and gave Bradford the lead at 4-6. The visitors could have gone further ahead within minutes but Wood was pulled into touch after good Wigan defending.

Bradford did extend their lead though in the 25th minute as a high kick from Gale was missed by Hampshire while under pressure and led to Sidlow grounding for the try which was converted by Foster for a 4-12 lead. Wigan pushed to get another score and gave the ball away via a Gelling knock on which was soon costly as Bateman went over for a try despite being pressured by two Wigan defenders and despite Foster missing the conversion it was a comfortable 4-16 lead at half time.

Wigan hoped to make a good start to the second half but good defence from Bradford kept them out despite forcing an early drop out. However, it was Bradford who hit the first points of the half after being awarded a dubious penalty after what looked like a one on one steal by Charnley was given as a chance to kick at goal for Foster who duly obliged for a 4-18 lead.

Wigan forced another drop out after nice work from Dudson but were unable to convert it into a try but their luck changed in the 65th minute as a rampaging run by Hampshire saw him pass to Charnley who raced over the line but Richards' missed conversion meant Wigan were 8-18 behind.

Wigan went in again as Farrell burst through the Bradford defence to run clear and spied Tuson in support who collected the pass and raced under the posts to give Wigan hope of a great comeback which was added to with Richards' successful conversion which brought it to 14-18.

Wigan were penalised and Bradford had a penalty in a good position and elected to kick at goal which saw Foster convert to regain a six point lead at 14-20 and from the kick off a Scruton error gave Wigan good position but a knock on with the try line in sight cost them the chance to score.

Five minutes to go and the comeback was truly on as Thornley sped through a gap and raced over the line for a crucial try which was superbly converted by Richards to level at 20 all and from the kick off, Wigan pushed for the win and Smith attempted a drop goal but the attempt cannoned back off the defence to dent Wigan hopes.

However, Tuson broke free and had the home fans on their feet as he raced towards the line before diving over the line to a rapturous celebration by his team mates and fans with Richards brilliant conversion sweeping Wigan into a 26-20 lead.

The hooter sounded and Wigan had secured a last-gasp win after an average fifty minutes against a good Bradford side who were unlucky not to repeat last year's success at the DW but the fight off Wigan ensured they stayed clear at the top.

An amazing end to a good game of Rugby and despite being slightly wide on the score prediction the win was the main thing as well as another successful pick for the first try in Charnley.

Att - 13,213.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Warriors host Bulls

After two consecutive defeats to Warrington and Castleford, Wigan look to get back to winning ways and maintain their hold on the top of the league by playing host to Bradford.

Wigan will be cautious not only because of the poor form in recent games but also because of the shock defeat they were dealt when the teams last met at the DW in June 2012 when Wigan on a thirteen game winning run similar to this season fell to a 22-30 defeat against a resolute Bradford who had secured financial safety.

Both sides have key players out with Wigan again missing Sam Tomkins just like last year when Jack Murphy deputised but this time it may be Ryan Hampshire at full back on Friday night, a positive is the return of Ben Flower who has been sidelined since the victory away at Wakefield and Epalahame Lauaki. 

Bradford are missing Jamie Langley and Jarrod Sammut who ahve both been influential for the Bulls this season and will be a massive miss but a positive for the Bulls is the return of Luke Gale who missed the Warrington game due to the sadness of losing his mother.

Wigan-Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Ryan Hampshire, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Epalahame Lauaki, Michael McIlorum, Andy Powell, Sam Powell, Pat Richards,Matty Smith, Logan Tomkins, Chris Tuson

Bradford - James Donaldson, Oliver Roberts, Chev Walker, Adam Sidlow, Luke Gale, Elliot Kear, Nick Scruton, John Bateman, Heath L'Estrange, Michael Platt, Keith Lulia, Adrian Purtell, Adam O'Brien, Manase Manuokafoa, Danny Addy, Jamie Foster, Matt Diskin, Matty Blythe and Ben Evans.

Due to the recent losses, Wigan need to really step up on Friday night and Bradford will be hoping to repeat last years surprise win at the DW so I am going for a Wigan win by 20 - Wigan 40 Bradford 20.


Saturday, 29 June 2013

Tigers Roaring Win Over Warriors

After a gruelling game on Monday at Warrington, Wigan barely had time to recover before playing host to Castleford last night.

Wigan welcomed back Green, McIlorum and Dudson while handing a home debut to Tierney and a debut in Rugby League to former Union player Andy Powell on a rainy night at the DW.

Castleford started the better of the sides and should have opened the scoring in the ninth minute as Hauraki came close to diving on a loose ball after a quick kick from Chase but no score and Wigan held on. Wigan were forced to drop-out twice in succession as Castleford piled on the pressure.

The pressure paid off in the 20th minute as a high kick was aimed at Tierney who spilled the ball allowing Dixon to collect and score an easy try to send the Tigers fans wild in the East Stand and as he converted his own try, Castleford took a 0-6 lead.

Wigan pushed back by forcing Castleford into two drop-outs and came achingly close to levelling as Sam Powell swept a kick over to the left for the unmarked Richards who in attempting to stop the ball knocked on and wasted a certain try.

The home fans cheered as Andy Powell came on for his Wigan debut and showed early promise with two good drives towards the line as Wigan tried to pull level. Richards knocked on again and Castleford gained good position from a penalty but thankfully for Wigan their defence was strong enough to prevent going further behind.

Another knock on proved costly as Castleford were awarded a penalty deep in the Wigan half and opted for goal with Dixon kicking for an 0-8 lead. Wigan fell further behind within minutes as straight from the kick off a break down the right between Owen and Tansey gave space for Millington to race clear over the line in the right corner and despite a missed conversion, Castleford were comfortable at 0-12 going into the interval.

Wigan were crumbling, had been nilled at the break for the second time inside a week and needing the comeback spirit they found at Warrington.

However, there was no repeat of the early second half success at Warrington as Castleford had the chance to capitalise from a penalty but Dixon missed from close range and gave Wigan hope which was soon dashed as Clare broke free and dived over in the corner to the delight of the travelling fans who saw Dixon again miss the conversion but led 0-16.

Wigan finally got on the score sheet in the 57th minute as Castleford conceded a penalty for a high shot on Green and the quick tap saw the ball fly from left to right allowing Charnley to dive over in the corner and hand Richards a tough position for the conversion which was horribly missed and left Wigan down 4-16.

Despite the missed conversion, the try lifted the Wigan faithful and the players and they could have had a quick second as Gelling was held just short of the line on the final tackle but it was Castleford who had the final score just before the hooter as they were awarded a penalty which Dixon duly converted for a famous Tigers victory by 4-18.

From the outset, myself and a few people around me had a feeling it would not be our night given the short turnaround and the number of players making comebacks after a long time sidelined but it still hurt to lose like we did and just hope that we can get back to winning ways next week.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Warriors Host The Tigers

After a heartbreaking late defeat at Warrington on Monday night, Wigan make the short turnaround by hosting of Castleford tomorrow night.

The two sides fought out a close game in March as Wigan took a 22-4 lead into half time only for a resilient Castleford to bring it level at 22 all with eight minutes to go before Wigan secured a vital win with a Tuson try in the final minutes.

One of the main problems at Warrington was the number of Warriors out injured but thankfully Wigan are able to welcome Micky McIlorum and the influential Blake Green back to the squad while Sam Tomkins is missing possibly being rested after Monday and as such young Lewis Tierney is likely to make his home Super League debut.

Wigan - Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, James Greenwood, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Tom Spencer, Lewis Tierney, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins.

Castleford - Richard Owen, Michael Shenton, Kirk Dixon, Rangi Chase, Jamie Ellis, Jonathan Walker,  Daryl Clark, Craig Huby, Weller Hauraki, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Nathan Massey,
 Oliver Holmes, Jordan Thompson, Jordan Tansey, Dan Fleming, James Clare, Keith Mason,
 Ryan Boyle.

Despite a mixture of youth and experience in the Wigan side and having only a three day turnaround between games, I still think a win is on the cards and will go for Wigan 40 Castleford 12.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Wire Triumph Over Wigan

Wigan Warriors fell to their first defeat since March in a hard fought game at Warrington which saw Wigan missing seven first team players due to injury.

Wigan started the better with a Sam Tomkins kick on the 5th tackle forcing a Wire drop-out but Wigan failed to convert it into the opening score and the conceding of a penalty in the midfield saw Warrington capitalise with Higham picking out Westwood who raced over to sent the home fans wild and Hodgson added the extras for a 6-0 lead.

Wigan looked for an instant reply and Smith's kick through found Riley who was caught in goal and meant another drop-out by Wire but yet again Wigan failed to convert it into a score. Warrington went over again on the back of a penalty but the try was chalked off by the video referee who deemed that Hodgson had failed to fully ground the ball and Wigan breathed a sigh of relief.

The relief was short as this time Warrington did score their second despite some controversy as Briers kick to the corner was close to being palmed by Richards but Monaghan snuck in to ground the ball or so it would seem as on review, it seemed clear that he had lost the ball before grounding but the try was awarded to much disdain by the travelling fans and despite a missed conversion Wire were 10-0 up.

Both sides pushed forward but it was Warrington the happier as the half time break came as they led 10-0, Wigan needed a good start to the second half and got it on the first attack with an exquisite pass by Smith finding Sam Tomkins who stretched to touchdown over the line in front of the travelling Warriors who went absolutely wild as Richards added the conversion to pull it back to 10-6.

Wigan were over again within seven minutes as great pressure and quick passes from right to left ripped open the Warrington defence and allowed Gelling to dive over for a well deserved try and Richards superb kick took Wigan into the lead at 10-12.

Wigan hearts sank in the 72nd minute as Atkins went over but thankfully on review he had lost the ball while under pressure from the Wigan defence but the heartbreak did come three minutes later as Warrington broke away through Riley down the left and his kick forward fooled the Wigan defence and allowed Higham to touchdown and with Hodgson's conversion it meant Warrington now led 16-12.

Wigan's youngsters had done amazingly well to comeback and lead but their chances of a famous win capitulated with three minutes remaining as Hill crashed over to send three sides of the HJ ecstatic and leave the Wiganers in the West stand ruing mistakes but proud of their team's performance against a better and more experienced side. Hodgson added the extras and Warrington had an 22-12 lead and held on for the win to end Wigan's 13 game winning run.

An amazing night despite the result as for the majority of the 80 minutes, I and the rest of the Wiganers in the West out sung all three sides of the Wire faithful and even when the score meant a loss the cheers and support continued long after the game was over. Obviously my prediction failed as I went for a Wigan win but on my debut away trip I was very proud of the young lads and hope they can return with a win on Friday.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Warriors Travel To Wolves

After a 17 day break due to the international match, Wigan make the short trip to face fierce rivals Warrington in what is usually a tie between the league's top two but this season has seen Wire stutter in comparison to Wigan.

Warrington look good in third but are six points off the top while Wigan are five clear of anyone with an unbeaten run of 13 games which hopefully will not be an unlucky omen when they collide on Monday.

Wigan come off the back of a 33-32 at Widnes in which a very young 17 played and further injuries mean the age of the side that take the field on Monday will be shockingly young in comparison to the 'old guard' of Warrington who themselves have found good form in their previous two games seeing them score 150 points while only conceding 20 against Salford and London.

This tie has been long awaited as the last meeting was back in round two in February when Briers kicked a late drop goal which deflected off the post to secure a 17-17 draw and make Wigan wait to secure a league win over Wire (their last came in 2010) until this weekend.

Warrington -  Ryan Atkins, Lee Briers, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper Ben Currie, Simon Grix, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Brett Hodgson, Tyrone McCarthy, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Adrian Morley, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford, Chris Riley, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Paul Wood.

Wigan - Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Epalahame Lauaki, Rhodri Lloyd, Lee Mossop, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Tom Spencer, Sam Tomkins, Logan Tomkins, Chris Tuson, George Williams.

As expected the bookmakers are offering a slim +4/-4 handicap between the sides and personally I would agree that there may not be a full score between the sides and as such I am predicting a tight game with Wigan edging it at Wire 32 Wigan 36.


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Wigan Edge Thriller At Widnes

Wigan stretched their winning run to 13 in all competitions after a close encounter away to Widnes and got their revenge for the 37-36 loss suffered last season.

In a repeat of last season, Wigan were forced to field a weakened side due injuries to eight of the first team and meant Ryan Hampshire made a debut from the bench while Lewis Tierney made his debut at full-back.

Despite their inexperience it was Wigan who opened the scoring in the second minute as Logan Tomkins outfoxed the defence to claim his first Super League try and make sure the Tomkins name graced the scoreboard with brother Sam injured and Charnley converted for a 0-6 lead.

Widnes hit back within minutes as a clever pass out to the wing allowed Ah Van to race over the line with ease but Owens missed conversion left them behind at 4-6.

Wigan increased the lead in the 14th minute to the joy of former Warriors great Jason Robinson who saw his son Tierney score his first Wigan try after a good assist by Tuson and Charnley's second conversion put them clear at 4-12.

Widnes fell further behind in the 23rd minute after superb vision from Williams who spotted Gelling in space and hit a pinpoint kick out to the winger who collected and dived over the line, Charnley missed a tough kick but Wigan led by 12 at 4-16.

Widnes reduced the gap four minutes later after a line break by Hanbury sent him clear and near the line he offloaded to Lawton who went over for the try, Owens added the conversion to bring them to 10-16,  they drew level just before the break after nice play saw Winterstein go over and Owens second goal put the teams at 16 all.

Wigan replicated their start with a try just as early in the second half as a high Widnes kick was caught by Tierney on his own line and he passed to Charnley who sidestepped a Pickersgill tackle and raced the length of the pitch unchallenged to score a magnificent try while his conversion put Wigan 16-22 up.

The sides were level again in the 50th minute as Hanbury snuck over the line after spotting a gap followed by a super kick from Owens bringing the score to 22 all. Wigan could have regained the lead as Hansen went over but a knock on by Tomkins in the build up meant the video ref chalked the score off.

Widnes led after Ah Van scored his second just before the hour mark but Owens' missed conversion meant the lead was only four points but still 26-22. Wigan make two successive errors which put them under pressure and came so close to falling further behind as Ah Van looked to have completed his hat-trick but after being reviewed by the video ref he was found to have been in touch before grounding the ball.

Wigan pulled Widnes back as Gelling hit his second try with the award by the video ref after a call for obstruction was denied but Charnley's missed kick put the score at 26 all. Both sides looked to regain the lead but it was the insight of Sam Powell that pushed Wigan ahead with a stunning drop goal from 35 metres out to give a lead of 26-27.

Powell was instrumental in Wigan pushing further ahead as a superb offload close to the line out Taylor in for his first Wigan try and with Charnley kicking the goal, Wigan had a seven point lead at 26-33. The lead was tested with two minutes to go as Ah Van did complete his hat-trick and Owens' goal meant Wigan led by a solitary point at 32-33.

Widnes will be ruing their last chance which saw them put the ball into touch with the last play of the game when the options to run or kick for goal looked easier and their error allowed Wigan to celebrate a deserved but hard fought two points which saw them go five clear at the top after a surprise win for Hull KR over Huddersfield.

A really tense game and up there as one of the best we have seen this season, my prediction of a Wigan win was correct but the margin shocked a lot of people. The main positive was the first scores for Tomkins, Tierney and Taylor showing the future is bright for Wigan.