Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Wigan v Catalan

A downpour at the DW pre-game threatened ruin the celebration of Pat Richards' 200th game and the hopes of his 150th try but to no avail as he played a milestone 80 minutes to remember.

Both sides had a cagey first quarter with Bentham's consistent awarding of penalties for offside by both meaning the game had no real flow, the best chance came in the 17th minute as Menzies went on a superb run and got to 10m out before being tackled.

However, in doing so put Catalans in a great field position on the final tackle and the resulting kick went straight to Richards and gave Wigan the chance to attack.

Smith ran towards the defence and offloaded to Green who went over for the night's first try and improved his popularity with the Wigan faithful and in Richards' conversion made it 6-0.

The flow continued to be lacking as penalties for offside kept coming but both sides were also makig errors, Catalans being penalised for a forward pass from which Wigan failed to add to the score and Wigan forcing a couple of dropouts after some forceful attack and defence.

It took until the 32nd minute before another register on the scoreboard as Green sprayed a pass to O'Loughlin who powered towards the line and offloaded to Tuson to dive over for his second try in a week and the successful conversion put Wigan 12-0 up.

Catalans needed to get back into the game but a massive error to clear the ball about 25m from their line cost them dearly as O'Loughlin ran on to his own kick and popped the ball to Hughes who went over to put Wigan in firm control at 18-0 at half time with Pat's milestone try still awaited.

Three minutes into the second half, Richards sealed his 150try in spectacular fashion as he intercepted Millard pass and with the 12,000 Wigan fans roaring him on he raced 90m unchallenged to fly over the line to rapturous applause and reaffirmed why Catalans are good opponents for him, his debut came against them in 2006 and he scored his 1000 point against them in a 58-0 demolition in 2010 and to cap it off he successfully converted his own try.

Wigan were out of sight in the 51st minute as Smith and Green combined to give Sam Tomkins the ball and an easy run towards the line where he went over for a try in the corner, Pat missed from the touchline but Wigan were 28-0 up and soon increased to 32-0 as Richards latched on to a deep kick from Green to run in and score in the corner but missed the resulting conversion.

After being denied the ball for a while, Catalans had the chance to attack and get on the score board as Wigan conceded consecutive penalties and Green went off to a massive applause for a stellar hour on the field.

The discipline of the sides was good until the 66th minute when Elima sarcastically applauded the official for giving Wigan the ball and saw Wigan awarded a penalty and the ball moved 20m closer to the Catalans line.

The intensity hit breaking point minutes later as Sam Tomkins was battered by a high shoulder in a tackle by Pelissier and a brawl ensued with Bentham consulting with the linesman about any offenders and a yellow card and sin-binning was given to Elima for dissent with Sam leaving the field dazed with Crosby replacing him.

Catalans task with only 12 men was near impossible and they clearly frustrated when Charnley forced a drop-out and from the resulting kick it sailed straight out into touch and gave Wigan then ball 10m from the Catalans line.

As the game entered the final minutes, Green was announced as the Man of the Match which was richly deserved for a brilliant performance with four try assists on the night and Wigan put the gloss on the performance as Greg Burke went over for his first try for the club and Pat converted to make it 38-0.

The hooter sounded and Catalans despite all their fight suffered their third nilling in five trips to Wigan with the previous two being 58-0 (2010) and 44-0 (2011 play-offs) and Wigan with rivals Warrington losing kept their 2nd place in the league and continued as top point scorers ahead of a tough trip to Leeds next week.

As the rain came down on Friday afternoon, I thought my prediction of  36-18 was too high in terms of points but in the end it was just the Catalans score which I was a long way from and only two points difference in the end in terms of scores for Wigan.