Sunday, 28 April 2013

Warriors Scrape Past Hull FC

A tight finish at the KC Stadium saw Wigan make it six wins in a row against a Hull FC side that pushed them all the way.

On the eve of the game, winger Pat Richards announced he would return to Wests Tigers in the NRL for 2014 after an amazing eight seasons at Wigan who welcomed back McIlorum, Green and Farrell to the the thirteen.

A tense opening ten minutes, Wigan had the first real chance as Green found space and ran through the gap, from the next play Wigan forced a dropout and from that set Sam Tomkins passed near the line to put Thornley in for the game's opening try which was successfully converted by Richards for 0-6.

Wigan added to their lead within two minutes as a Richards broke down the left and kicked for Tomkins to dive on and seal a nice try and Richards again converted for a 0-12 lead. Hull responded well and in the 22nd minute Lineham squeezed through a gap to goover for the try but a tricky conversion attempt saw Westerman miss to put the score at 4-12.

Wigan were tested by a revitalised Hull and the pressure paid off just before the interval as Crooks was tackled near the line but was able to stretch his arm over the line for the score and Westerman's successful conversion meant it was 10-12 at the break.

Wigan edged further ahead six minutes into the second half as a Hull conceded a penalty which gave Wigan good field position and they took full advantage as a set of quick hands from left to right saw Goulding slip a pass to Charnley who went in for the try out wide and another successful conversion from Richards put Wigan 10-18 ahead.

Just like in the first period it was Wigan who hit a quick double as after Charnley's score, Hughes broke down the middle to supply a super pass for Tomkins who sealed his second try of the night and his 20th for the season and Richards again converted well as Wigan now led 10-24.

Hull broke back again in the 56th minute as Crooks tipped the ball to Lineham and the winger swept down the left side for his second and Hull's third score of the night but Westerman's miss from the conversion left them still trailing by ten at 14-24.

The gap decreased as midway through the half, Hull were in again as Lineham completed his hat-trick with a touchdown in the corner and the home fans had more to cheer as Westerman sent over the successful conversion to close back to a four point deficit at 20-24.

Wigan made it a six point lead as Richards sent over a penalty goal from 32 metres out to make it 20-26 with 12 minutes to go, He hit a second successful penalty minutes later to give Wigan a eight point lead meaning Hull had to score at least twice more to win with eight minutes left on the clock.

In the final seconds, they had a great chance to pull the points gap down but knocked on with the try line in sight and Wigan held on for a hard fought win and extended their lead at the top of the Super League table to three points over Huddersfield.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hull v Wigan Preview

Tomorrow sees Wigan travel to face Hull FC after a run of five wins which has seen them stay top of the table and Hull themselves have had recent victories over Wakefield, Catalan and Salford.

On injuries ahead of the trip, Wigan are pleased to report with the exception of Paul Prescott, Epalahame Lauaki and Chris Tuson there is a full squad is available while Hull see the return of Shannon McDonnell, Tom Briscoe, Mark O’Meley and Richard Whiting.

Hull FC  Bowden, Briscoe, Crookes, Crooks, Green, Heremaia, Horne, Houghton, Johnson, Lineham, Lynch, McDonnell, O’Meley, Pitts, Shaul, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman

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, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins

As both sides are on good form, I anticipate a close game with a Wigan win by a couple of scores so Hull 18 Wigan 30

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Warriors Overpower Centurions

A comfortable win saw Wigan clinch their place in the fifth round of the Tetley's Challenge Cup at the expense of local rivals Leigh.

Wigan did have an early worry as Brierley broke clear for Leigh and a nice grubber forced Tomkins to clear and prevent a certain try, Leigh went close again after Ridyard's kick forced Wigan to defend on their line.

Ridyard had another good chance to open the scoring but his kick was too powerful for him to recollect before it found touch. Wigan got the ball back and O'Loughlin found his way over the line only to be held-up, but the resulting link -up between Smith and Tomkins saw Charnley go over the for the first try and Wigan led 4-0.

A penalty to Wigan was the base of their second try as Thornley supplied a pass to Richards who when one-on-one with Brierley sidestepped to give himself a clear run to he line and he managed to convert his won try to out Wigan 10-0 up.

Tomkins bagged his first try with a dash to the line after a dummy and a nice combination of Smith and Goulding with Richards' conversion moving Wigan clear at 16-0. Richards sealed a brace after a nice run by Thornley and a dummy allowed him to find Richards who ran clear to the line and also successfully convert for a 22-0 lead.

From the kick off, Logan Tomkins spilled the ball to give Leigh good field position and a sweet pass from Brierley found Parker who powered over the line to send the Leythers in the North Stand into a massive roar and Ridyard's conversion pulled it back to 22-6.

Tomkins hit his second try on the half-hour as Powell found him with a skilled pass and he dived over in the corner and with a hard conversion missed it meant Wigan led 26-6.

 Wigan's comfort into the break increased on the hooter as debutant Williams flicked a nice pass for Tomkins to fly clear to the line and secure his hat-trick and Richards converted for a 32-6 half time lead.

Last week at Bradford, Wigan were seen to ease off a bit in the second half but it was instantly clear it wouldn't happen here as within 40 seconds of the restart, Goulding raced clear and slipped the ball to Charnley who dashed towards the line and over for his second of the night and increase the lead to 38-6.

Leigh soon proved that they were still in the game with a stellar break as Parker offloaded to Ridyard who raced to the line, but in grounding the ball he knocked on to leave Leigh still with a big gap to close.

The gap widened as O'Loughlin put Richards in for his hat-trick and again he converted his own score as Wigan led 44-6. Leigh were soon out of contention after a a quick double from Tomkins and Charnley.

Tomkins scoring after a nice run to the line to make it 50-6 and he set up Charnley for a hat-trick try in the corner as Wigan stormed to a 54-6 lead,

Wigan's last score of the night came on the hour mark and it was well worked as Charnley broke through again and threw a nice pass inside to the supporting Williams who raced towards the line for his first try in a dream start in the Cherry and White jersey and what will hopefully be the first of many, Richards converted to give Wigan a 60-6 lead.

Leigh had suffered a 60-10 loss in their last game to Halifax and they matched that scoreline two minutes from the end as Brierley who has been their star man on the night latched on to a loose ball after surprising Tomkins, who challenged him in a race to the free ball only to miss out and see the Leigh fans in celebrate as Brierley touched down in front of his own fans.

As the hooter sounded, despite a final score of 60-10 the biggest cheer came from the Leigh end who were proud of their lads for a good showing against a strong Wigan team who have scored 450 points in the 11 league rounds this year including two nillings.

Prediction wise, I did expect a strong Wigan win and two near misses from Leigh could have made it closer to my guess of 40-12 but a win is the main thing as Wigan move into the fifth round to be drawn tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Wigan v Leigh Preview ( Challenge Cup )

This week Super League takes a break to allow the fourth round of the Challenge Cup to be played and tonight sees Wigan host local rivals Leigh in their first meeting since Leigh's relegation from Super League in 2005.

Aside from local rivalry, there is also a family rivalry with the Thornley brothers playing against each other with Iain (Wigan) and Andrew (Leigh) in their first competitive meeting.

Wigan go into the game not only as favourites but also the bookie's favourites to lift the trophy in August and this comes on the back of red hot form which has seen them beat St Helens, Hull KR, Wakefield and Bradford by comfortable scores which has meant they sit top of the table with a staggering points difference of 298.

Leigh come into the game on the back of a humbling by Halifax which saw them hammered by 60-10 but as we all know a wounded animal can strike back with fatal consequences so Wigan are well aware that Leigh will come into the tie with nothing to lose.

Wigan have included Greenwood, Lloyd and Williams in the 19 as Green, McIlorum and Farrell are all restd after amazing performances so far this season and the injured lads who came back against Bradford all retain a place in the squad.

Wigan - Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, James Greenwood, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Rhodri Lloyd, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, George Williams.

Leigh -McNally, Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall, Ridyard, Beswick, Spencer, Penkywicz, Parker, Finnigan, Briscoe, Hopkins, Brierley, Ostick, Thornley, Taylor.

As it is a cup game, league positions go out of the window but I still think Wigan with all the superstars back will be too strong for their rivals and as such am going for a Wigan win by 40-12.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Warriors Overcome Bulls Challenge

A fifth consecutive win and the retention of their position at the top of the table was Wigan's reward after a comfortable win over Bradford at Odsal.

Wigan welcomed back long term sidelined Mossop and Hansen and Charnley, O'Loughlin and Richards returned after missing out against Wakefield last week.

Wigan started well and forced some good defence from the Bradford pack but the defence buckled in the ninth minute as a grubber kick by Green found the hands of Farrell who went over from close range for the opening try which was his eighth of 2013 and Richards success from the conversion put Wigan 6-0 up.

Five minutes later and the Warriors were in again as a great dummy by Green fooled the defence and allowed him to go in for the try and Richards was two from two for a 12-0 lead which could have been narrowed quickly as Purtell flicked a pass to Kear but he knocked on so close the line.

The knock on proved costly as Hughes soon crossed for Wigan and Richards' third conversion made for a 18-0 score which quickly became 24-0 after a mistake from Kearney in the 36th minute enabled Farrell to scoop the ball and cross for a second try to notch a ninth for the season and Richards' perfect kicks continued with his fourth conversion.

The half ended with the completion of a hat-trick for Farrell after yet another Bradford mistake which gifted Wigan possession and a cut inside by Farrell sealed his treble and to bring the half to a close, Richards hit a fifth consecutive conversion to push the half time score to 30-0 to Wigan.

Bradford's run of mistakes continued instantly from the restart as the kick off went out on the full and Wigan took full advantage adding to their comfortable lead as the resulting kick from Matty Smith was amazingly accurate in finding Tomkins who caught and ran safely of the line with Richards hitting double figures for the afternoon with his sixth successful conversion and Wigan were 36-0 up.

Ten minutes later, the Bulls' faithful fans had something to cheer about as they saw Jarrod Sammut cross for the try after collecting a superb kick and he converted himself to give Bradford a chance at 6-36 down but their hopes were hampered by the sin-binning of Whitehead after a team warning.

Wigan pushed to close the game out but some tough Bulls defence kept the score deficit to 30 points and saw Wigan take the win after an even second half which sees them remain top of the table with a massive points difference of 298 (only four other SL teams have even scored that many).

As for my prediction of 36-12, I came so close and if I had bet on it I would have been cursing my luck but it showed that the return of the stars would include a 'foot off the pedal' second half which has happened in the past and may have been with the visit of Leigh in the Challenge Cup fourth round on Friday.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Bradford v Wigan preview

Sitting at the top of Super League, Wigan travel to a revitalised Bradford who currently sit fifth a year after being on the bring of liquidation and have turned themselves into a really good side with six wins to their name this season.

They also have the fact that they beat Wigan in their last meeting 30-22 at the DW last summer but were previously thrashed 54-16 at Odsal. Both sides have had their ups and downs in recent years with Bradford reaching Grand Finals and Wigan narrowly avoiding relegation to the Warriors topping the table and Bradford languishing in the bottom half of the table.

Wigan welcome back a lot of their injured stars with Charnley, O'Loughling, Hansen, Mossop and the jet lagged Richards all returning to the 19 while Bradford welcome back Platt to their squad.

Bradford: Donaldson, Sidlow, Langley, Manuokafoa, Gale, Kearney, Scruton, L'Estrange, Purtell, Lulia, Whitehead, Kear, Sammut, Addy, Olbison, Walker, Evans, Platt, Diskin.
Wigan:  Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Flower, Goulding, Green, Hansen, Hughes, McIlorum, Mossop, O'Loughlin, Powell, Richards, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, Tomkins, Tomkins.

Due to both sides doing well this season, I think the game would have been really close with Wigan's current squad but the return of so many stars might open the game up a bit more so i am going to say Bradford 12 Wigan 36.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Warriors Deny 12 Man Wildcats

Wigan's four game run over Easter ended with a 100% success rate as they denied a strong fightback from a weakened Wakefield who played 68 minutes with only 12 men.
Wigan got off to an amazing start as a deep kick was poorly dealt with by Wakefield and Wigan had great field position which allowed Green to find Tomkins from the scrum and he spotted Thornley on the right who took the pass and slipped through a gap to go over for the opening try in the corner but with Charnley and Richards sidelined it was Smith who took over the goal  kicking duties and sadly his touchline attempt missed to leave Wigan at 4-0 up.
Wigan were in again in the 7th minute as they went down the left side with Tomkins providing a pass that split the Wildcats defence and allowed stand in winger Gelling to dive over in the corner for the try and Smith's successful conversion gave Wigan a 10-0 lead.

Wakefield's task suffered a massive blow in the 12th minute as from a tackle by Farrell, Justin Poore got up and after a scuffle landed a punch which meant he was sent off but it seemed to be a small blessing as Wakefield got on to the scoreboard.

From a penalty, Mellars swept past a couple of tackles and through the defensive line to go over under the posts and Sykes' conversion brought them to only four points down at 10-6. Their luck got better from receiving the kick off as Aiton went on a blistering run and swooped through a gap in the line and drove towards the try-line but in passing a Wigan hand pushed it back and right into the path of Mathers who went over to level the score but Sykes' second conversion handed the Wildcats a 12-10 lead.

Amazing spirit from the 12 men but their luck was brought to a halt in the 23rd minute as a nice move from left to right gave Goulding space and allowed him to offload to the in-running Thornley who went over in the corner and despite the missed conversion Wigan led 14-12.

Four minutes later, Wigan pushed ahead as a darting run by Tomkins found him clear with the try-line in sight and he went over for his first try under the posts allowing Smith to convert with ease and give Wigan a 20-12 lead.

Wakefield were split again as Thornley and Goulding ran through the defence and Thornley repaid his centre for the try assist by setting up one and Goulding went over safely and a bit of luck saw Smith's conversion smash the post and go over successfully as Wigan now had a 14 point lead at 26-12.

Blake Green has consistently created tries this season and continued that great form by shaping a pass to Farrell on the left and he sped past Mathers and into the corner for the try, Smith missed the conversion but from a difficult angle it was so close and Wigan steamed cleat into the break at 30-12.

Just like in the first half, Wigan started with a quick score as fast passes between Goulding, Burke and then lastly Hughes gave Gelling space and saw him seal his second try and Smith missed again but the lead was now 34-12.

Tomkins bagged his second by stepping through the defence for an easy try and with Smith off the field, Sam Powell was given the chance to convert from an easy position but maybe nerves got the better of him as he blazed it wide of the posts but his side led by 26 at 38-12.

Wakefield hit a quick double to spur thoughts of a comeback as Lee Smith swished through a jumbled Wigan defence for a well worked try and Sykes kept up his 100% success rate in kicking the conversion to bring Wakefield back to 38-18 and Aiton ran for the line then kicked a grubber before collecting and going over for the try with Sykes' fourth goal narrowing the gap to 14 points at 38-24.

That score put Wakefield as the highest scorers against Wigan in 2013 which was more surprising as they had done it with only 12 men but their hopes of a comeback were dashed in style as  Tomkins raced 70 metres to complete his hat-trick and Smith's successful conversion put the score at 44-24 and in the final minutes, Farrell was announced as the man of the match to a loud cheer and despite the stadium looking a bit empty in places an attendance of 12,152 was pretty good as Wigan held on for the win.

100% over Easter is amazing when for the majority of the four games there have been a pretty youthful Wigan side on the field and with a long injury list it makes many wonder what will happen when Wigan are back to full strength.

Prediction wise, I had predicted before I knew Richards would be missing but the sending off gave it a chance and the final score of 44-24 wasn't a long way from my hopes of 40-12.

Next week is a tough game against a revitalised Bradford who sit a surprising third in the table a year after they were on the verge of going bust.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Wigan v Wakefield preview

A superb Easter double against Saints and Hull KR propelled Wigan to top of the League and they go into this weekend's game as hot favourites to stay at the top as they play host to Wakefield.

Last year saw a Wigan double with the Warriors winning 36-6 at home before demolishing the Wildcats away 52-10 and after Easter Monday's 84-6 win, Wigan will be full of confidence despite Josh Charnley and captain Sean O'Loughlin missing out due to injury.

Wakefield come away from Easter with one win from two after winning 37-16 against rivals Castleford before going down 34-22 to a revitalised Hull FC so will be wanting to get back to winning ways and move up the table by causing an upset on Sunday.

Wigan Warriors: Burke, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hughes, McIlorum, Powell, Richards, Spencer, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, L Tomkins, S Tomkins, Tuson.

Wakefield: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, Smith, Poore, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook, Wood, Amor, Wilkes, Mellars, Lyne, Annakin.

The weather is expected to be good so a good game will hopefully take place but the skill gap between the teams I think will show so I am going for Wigan 40 Wakefield 12.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Record Breaking Wigan Humiliate Hull KR

Last season, MS3 Craven Park was the setting for Wigan's record breaking comeback from 26-0 down to win 12-42 and claim the League Leaders shield and again it was Wigan who set the headlines with a 84-6 demolition of truly poor Hull KR.

Blake Green and Scott Taylor returned to their former club for the first time and

Green bagged a hat-trick amongst a total of fifteen tries for the Warriors, a record away win in Super League (formerly 78-4 v Workington in 1996) and Richards' 12 goals also equalled a league record as Wigan moved clear at the top of the league.

 Wigan buoyed by Good Friday made an electric start and took the led in the fourth minute as a superb left to right passing combination put Charnley in for his 11th try of 2013 and Wigan led 4-0.

Charnley went off injured and was replaced by Jack Hughes which could have been a massive blow but instead Wigan moved further ahead. The move came from a penalty as Sam Tomkins gave Green a nice pass from 5 metres out and over he went to the disappointment of his former followers who now found themselves 10-0 down as Richards added the conversion.

Wigan hit their third score as Tomkins slipped though a gap to put in Thornley who flew over and despite Richards' miss Wigan were 14-0 inside 15 minutes but 14 became 20 quickly as Richards kicked past Latus and raced to the line and a successful conversion meant Wigan were in firm control at 20-0.

Jack Hughes got in on the act in the 23rd minute as Wigan went to 26-0 meaning Hull KR needed an opposite comeback from last year but those hopes were dashed as HKR old boy Green bagged his second try on the half hour, Wigan now 30-0 up and surely out of sight.

The Robins had other thought's and prevented the possibility of a 'nilling' just as the hooter went as continuous sets paid off with a penalty which Eden capitalised on and went over to some cheer from the home fans into the break.

The cheer didn't last though as just like in the first half, Wigan scored in the fourth minute of the half as Green snapped up his hat-trick with a classy dance through from close range and his half back partner Matty Smith also went over for a try five minutes later after a 40/20 kick was successful, and Green fed Smith with a pinpoint pass to give Wigan a 42-6 lead.

On commentary, it was remarked that Wigan's away record was 72-6 v Wakefield in 1987 and with 25 minutes left it was well in range of being broken which got closer as Tuson scored after Tomkins supplied the pass and Smith hit his second after a penalty as Hull KR were in disarray  and just seemed to be out of ways to stop a steamrollering Wigan.

Sam Powell got on the score sheet after latching on to a neat kick from Richards who seemed to be on fire since his early misses at goal and he provided another assist this time for Farrell in a carbon copy try and soon after Tuson and Thornley sealed their individual braces as Wigan breezed past the record away win and their all time league win of 78-6.

Sam Tomkins for all his work and assists finally scored a try of his own in the final score of the afternoon to put Wigan over the 80 point mark with the 15th try for the Warriors and the icing on the cake came from Richards who in converting hit his 12th successful conversion to smash the Super League record for goals in a single game and condemn the Robins to a humiliating defeat.

It was a shame that the game was only on the radio as a master-class such as this should have been seen on TV, although the high score is great as a Warrior, it is slightly embarrassing for the league itself as a 78 point win shouldn't happen between two top teams but as we saw last week Wigan put 62 past Widnes only for the Vikings to shock Warrington before again conceding 62 on Monday to Huddersfield.

As for my prediction, the Wigan win was correct but my thoughts of a close game and a 12 point gap went inside 15 minutes as Wigan went 20-0 up.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Wigan v Hull KR preview

Despite claiming a superb derby win over St Helens only three days ago, Wigan continue their packed Easter weekend with a trip up to Hull KR, a place that holds happy memories for the Warriors as they claimed the League Leaders shield there both in 2010 and 2012.

Last season's match will mainly be remembered as possibly the greatest comeback in Super League history as Wigan fell 26-0 behind, pulled back to 32-12 down and mounted a miracle in the final 15 minutes to win 42-36 with Pat Richards and Josh Charnley sealing the win.

No trophy can be won this afternoon but Wigan can go two points clear at the top of the table while a win for Hull KR would take them as high as third if results go their way so even though we are only in round ten both sides are looking good.

Wigan are unchanged from Friday and Hull KR still have Dobson and Burns sidelined as Beharrel come into the squad.

Hull KR -Liam Salter, Alex Brown, Adam Walker, Graeme Horne, George Griffin, Sam Latus, Con Mika, Evarn Tuimavave, Kris Welham, Matthew Beharrell, Craig Hall, Mickey Paea, Keal Carlile, Jordan Cox, Omari Caro, Richard Beaumont, Greg Eden,Rhys Lovegrove,Josh Hodgson.

Wigan- Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Jack Hughes, Rhodri Lloyd, Michael McIlorum, Sean O'Loughlin, Pat Richards, Tom Spencer, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson.

Good conditions are forecast and with both buoyant after comfortable wins on Good Friday, I think a Wigan win but a narrow one so Hull KR 18 Wigan 30