Sunday, 10 February 2013

Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves

First game of the new season for Wigan at home at the DW and against fierce rivals Warrington Wolves, it was never going to be an easy game.

Wigan started the better with a couple of decent sets in the opening minutes but Warrington opened the scoring in the 10th minute as Joel Monaghan crossed in the corner after a set of quick passes unlocked the Wigan defence and gave him a clear run for the line and Hodgson converted for a 6-0 lead.

A few minutes later, Wigan had a slight problem with Matty Smith taking a knock in a tackle but luckily despite the blood, he was bandaged up and continued as Wigan pressurised the Warrington line through Blake Green as he supplied Thornley and the resulting kick left Warrington grounding the ball in goal and conceding a drop-out.

From the drop-out, Wigan spread the ball across to the line after Tomkins' run and the ball came to Gouldiing out on the right who fed Charnley for an easy score in the corner to put Wigan on the board, sadly Richards missed the conversion to leave Wigan 6-4 down.

20 minutes in and Wigan's choice to bring on Flower for Dudson had an instant effect as from the following set O'Loughlin found Farrell who threw a nice pass for Flower to sidestep the defence before going over to give Wigan the lead with Richards converting to give Wigan a 10-6 lead.

Warrington pushed forward and should have hit back after a nice run from Riley saw him stopped metres from the line by a great tackle by Richards and then in the next tackle a knock-on denied Warrington the chance to go over.

They did hit back in the 36th minute as they attacked the Wigan defence and just like earlier Monaghan was found on the overlap unmarked and able to go over for a easy try, but on review the score should have been chalked off as in the build up a Wigan player had been tackled in the air when receiving a kick but the score stood and surprisingly Hodgson missed the conversion so 10 all.

Just before the break a mistake by Warrington gave Wigan a penalty just out from the Warrington line and Richards elected to 'go for the two' and successfully kicked a penalty goal to give Wigan a 12-10 lead at the interval.

The lead disappeared barely two minutes into the second half as a stellar run by Myler after nice play saw him fly over to regain the lead for Warrington as Hodgson added the conversion to make it 16-12 to Warrington.

In the 50th minute, after a nice run Goulding was flagged by line judge Child to be in touch despite the screen showing he was clearly still in play and Wigan had a penalty which led to nice play across the field and Farrell going over to close the gap but Bentham went to the video referee as he was unsure of 'crossing' in the build-up, the try stood but Richards' second miss of the night left the score at 16 all.

Bentham seemed to lose patience with Wigan after conceding four penalties in the same set and warned told captain O'Loughlin to 'sort it out' on the hour mark but despite all the pressure, Warrington could not break through the Wigan defence who defended what seemed like 18 tackles in a few minutes.

Both sides pushed for a winning score and in the 73rd minute, Wigan thought they had it as Smith swept over a drop goal to push Wigan 17-16 ahead. Warrington hit a drop goal of their own minutes later to level the score at 17 all after Briers' kick bounced over off the inside of the post and his luck was the final score of the game.

A draw was a fair result as at times both sides could have taken a lead worthy of winning but excellent defensive performances kept the score down and like in 2012, missed conversions if converted would have given Wigan a win but to hold a strong and unchanged Warrington for Wigan with what is a new youthful setup is a massive achievement as well as the fact that 11 of their 17 were English born with 9 being academy products.