Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Warriors End Rhinos Magic Run

Champions collided as Wigan and Leeds played their part in a pulsating finale to the Magic Weekend which saw the Warriors continue their 11 game winning streak while ending the Rhinos' unbeaten run in the Magic rounds.

 A frantic start by both sides saw an opening try for Man of Steel Sam Tomkins after an exquisite pass from Iain Thornley came from stretching the Leeds defence in the ninth minute, Thornley offloaded inches from line and Tomkins went over to give Wigan the lead which was joined by a Richards conversion.

However, Wigan were pegged back after a dangerous tackle by McIlorum on Sinfield saw the Leeds 'Sir Kev' kick over to reduce the gap to four at 2-6. Sinfield was on the board again as he went over in the 20th minute by taking an easy pass from Hardaker to level the score before adding the conversion to put Leeds in front at 8-6.

Wigan thundered back in front thanks to a combination of Smith, Powell and Tomkins after Bailey's knock on from the restart which stretched the defence and Tomkins' offload to the unmarked Richards saw a well worked Wigan score which was completed by Richards' conversion.

Wigan regained their six-point lead as Jones-Buchanan conceded an avoidable penalty for 'lifting' Lauaki after a tackle which Richards made Leeds pay for by converting from ten metres for a 8-14 lead.

Half time neared and Leeds pulled back with a clever play that saw Watkins acrobatically ground the ball under heavy Wigan pressure but Silverwood went to the screen and Ian Smith awarded the try which left a two point gap at 12-14.

Richards added a second penalty after Bailey obstructed Powell and the successful kick put Wigan 12-16 up with two minutes left of the half remaining. Leeds went further behind with a crucial mistake as Sinfield's kick ricocheted off Tuson and put Wigan on the attack with seconds left, Smith scooped the ball and sent Charnley on a chase to the line which he crossed spectacularly as the hooter sounded and Wigan went into the break with a 16-20 lead.

Wigan went over early in the second half only to have the Powell's try chalked off for an obstruction by Farrell but it was Leeds who registered the next score after a slick move which saw a lightning handed pass by Watkins to put Vickery in for a vital score to reduce the deficit to 16-20.

Seven minutes left on the clock and a mazy run by McGuire had the Wigan fans' ruing earlier mistakes as he crashed over for a try but hope was still alive as Silverwood went to the screen and after intense review, Ian Smith denied the try for an obstruction in the build up and Wigan retained the lead with a sigh of relief.

Richards received treatment for a nasty cut which had flared up from earlier in the game and Wigan resumed from halfway with the penalty.  Richards was forced off to have the wound re-treated meaning Tomkins had the chance to make Leeds score at least a converted try to avoid the loss but his kick missed the posts but went dead meaning Wigan kept possession. 

Leeds pushed to keep their Magic success rate intact and had a great chance after a short drop-out but some heroic tiring defence saw them hold on as Richards powered to force Vickery into touch resulting in an rapturous roar from the Wigan faithful who knew the win was theirs to celebrate.

The best game I have witnessed this season for sure as I left the scene with no voice left and in absolute delight after 80 minutes of ups and downs which included some betting success despite my prediction of a 10 point win narrowly missing out.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Warriors Head for Magic

After extending their streak of wins to ten against London, Wigan make the short trip to Manchester for the Magic Weekend. 

Traditionally, Magic sees the Saints v Wigan derby but a remix of the fixtures sees a new challenge for the Warriors in the shape of the Leeds Rhinos.

Leeds currently have an unbeaten run at Magic but with recent defeats to Huddersfield (CC) and St Helens this past Monday, the money is on Wigan to ruin their record. 

Wigan will be looking to avenge the narrow defeat their suffered earlier in the season at Headingley and have the influential Matty Smith back in the 19.

Wigan- Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Epalahame Lauaki, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Tom Spencer, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson

LeedsZak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Paul McShane, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Kevin Sinfield (c), Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke, Chris Clarkson, Mitch Achurch, Richard Moore, Brad Singleton, Joe Vickery, Liam Sutcliffe

Due to Leeds' mixed form and as Wigan are on fire, I am going for a close Wigan win so Leeds 18 Wigan 28.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Warriors Cruise To Win Over Broncos

Wigan stretched their lead at the top of the Super League to three points with a dominating display over London on Saturday.

George Williams made his Super League debut at Half Back alongside Sam Powell and they settled in quickly as Wigan got off to a fierce start and opened the scoring in the fourth minute as a high kick from O'Loughlin on the fifth tackle was dropped by Dixon and found Tomkins on the right who put in Charnley for the try and a superb Richards conversion gave Wigan a 0-6 lead.

The lead increased within minutes as Thornley spied a gap on the left side and drew Dorn away to enable Richards to sneak through on the inside and score under the posts and in converting his own try Wigan now led 0-10.

Before a minute had passed, Wigan went in again as Tomkins carved a pass for Richards and he had a 60 second brace but sadly he missed the conversion and Wigan now led 0-14. Tomkins got a rich reward his assists with a truly special try as he broke through the field and sped for the line and with 18 minutes on the clock,Richards converted for a 0-20 lead.

Farrell split the defence with a superb pass and Richards had his hat-trick inside 22 minutes as well as adding a conversion to lead 0-26.

The 30 point mark came as a Gower kick was collected by Tomkins who spread the ball to the right and a Charnley break with Tomkins in tow saw him return the pass and Tomkins hit his second try with Richards converting for 0-32.

The game seemed to be over as a contest just before halfway as Williams made an excellent break as he received the ball 30 metres out and raced clear over the line for his first Super League try and second in the senior team (1st v Leigh in Challenge Cup) and with Richards converting the lead was 0-38.

London were pushed further behind within six minutes of the restart as Flower went over from close range and an easy kick from Richards sent Wigan clear at 0-44 and it seemed a case of when not if they breached the 50 point mark, but then London hit their first try after a quick break from Dorn with Witt converting for 6-44.

The 50 point mark was soon reached as Tomkins sealed his hat-trick just before the hour and Richards' conversion made it 6-50 as Wigan quelled the London fightback. Charnley made it a hat-trick of hat-tricks for Wigan with his second and third as the game ran away from London despite a double miss from Richards with the second coming from a good kick from Williams, collected by Charnley who's hat-trick try put Wigan in firm control at 6-58.

Wigan were not finished there and even had time for Powell to join his Half Back partner 6-64 win back to the North West with a massive following in tow as they sealed a ten game winning streak which will surely be tested at Magic next week against Super League Champions, Leeds.

I predicted a big win of 30 points because the London effort against Bradford last week coupled with the spirited performance they gave Wigan in the reverse fixture made me think they would go down fighting but it just did not show and a 28 point difference from the prediction was the result of a truly poor defence.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Warriors Travel To Face Broncos

Ahead of next week's Magic Weekend clash with Leeds, Wigan travel to face London at the Stoop.

Wigan are looking for an eighth consecutive win in Super League and a ninth in all competitions.

Due to injuries to Green and Smith, it is likely that Sam Powell and George Williams will form the half-back partnership with the possibility of Sam Tomkins playing alongside one of them with Charnley switching to full-back.

London make three changes from the side that faced Bradford last week as Hurst, Rodney and Mendeika return while Kaufusi misses out due to suspension.

London-Chris Bailey, Mark Bryant, Matt Cook, Kieran Dixon, Erjon Dollapi, Luke Dorn, Ben Fisher, Craig Gower, Shane Grady, David Howell, Alex Hurst, Olsi Krasniqi, Will Lovell, James Mendeika, Michael Robertson, Shane Rodney, Dan Sarginson, Scott Wheeldon, Michael Witt

Wigan - Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Darrell Goulding, Harrison Hansen, Epalahame Lauaki, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Pat Richards, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson, George Williams

I cannot see anything but a strong Wigan win here but surprises can happen so I will go for London 12 Wigan 42

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Warriors Triumph After Early Scare

Wigan secured a safe passage into the Quarter Finals of the Challenge Cup with a comfortable win over an in-form Hull KR.

Rovers got off to the best possible start with a short kick off which led to forcing the Warriors into an early drop-out, and the result was a Dobson grubber kick which evaded the Wigan defence and bounced into the arms of Hodgson who went over for the try in the left corner. Despite Dobson missing the conversion attempt, Rovers led 4-0 and their fans were overjoyed.

Wigan could have fallen further behind as a quick Rovers break down the middle was wasted by a knock on when numerous options were available, Wigan finally had their first attack but it was a costly one as not only was it pulled back due to a forward pass but a hard challenge on Green saw him leave the field in a bad way leaving Wigan without a recognised half-back.

Wigan looked out of sorts after Green's departure but eventually got points on the board in the 33rd minute as a clever sidestep by Tomkins gave him a clear run to the line and over he went with Richards converting to give Wigan a 4-6 lead.

Taking the lead seemed to inspire Wigan as they went in again four minutes later after a mistake by Eden allowed Tomkins to take advantage and go over for his second try and Richards matched with his second conversion as Wigan went to 4-12 at the break.

Rovers moved further behind early in the second half as a pass inside sent Richards forward and an offload to Tomkins saw the him secure his hat-trick and Richards success rate continued with his third conversion as Wigan went clear at 4-18.

Wigan plied through yet again as a short pass found Richards who went over for a try of his own under the posts and adding the conversion put Wigan in firm control of the tie at 4-24.

Rovers were stretched and this time Charnley found space to go over in the corner but Richards miss from a tough angle put the deficit to 24 at 4-28.

It was becoming a case of when rather than if Wigan scored again and Thornley's excellent pace saw him break away down the left for a superb try and Richards was back to best with the conversion with put Wigan thirty points clear.

Rovers finally scored their second try in the 63rd minute through Hall after a high kick to the corner and despite Dobson converting it was surely only consolation for the Robins as Farrell regained the thirty point gap with a super run out wide to beat the defence for his 12th try of the season and again Richards converted for a 10-40 lead.

Tomkins ended Wigan's scoring just as he had started it by winning a chase for the line in the 76th minute and Richards' final goal put Wigan at 10-46.

The final score of the afternoon went to Rovers with Hall scoring his second try and another Dobson miss left the score at 14-46 and meant Wigan sailed into the last eight of the Cup.

My prediction was based on Hull KR being in good form but their form let them down in this game and my choice of a 12 point gap was far from the real gap of 32.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Challenge Cup sees Wigan return to Hull KR

This afternoon sees Wigan visit Hull KR in the Challenge Cup fifth round with Rovers hoping to avenge the record 84-6 loss they suffered in their last meeting with the Warriors.

Since that humiliating defeat just over a month ago, KR have bounced back magnificently with a duo of defeats over St Helens including knocking them out of the Challenge Cup and are gunning for revenge against Wigan.

Wigan are missing the sidelined Smith and Gelling but welcome back Richards who will hopefully return to the kicking duties and Charnley goes into the tie needing only six points to reach 500 in his Wigan colours in what will be his 81st game. 

Hull KR: Salter, Caro, Walker, Green, Griffin, Paterson, Mika, Burns, Horne, Withers, Hall, Paea, Carlile, Lovegrove, Dobson, D Hodgson, Eden, Beaumont, J Hodgson.

Wigan Warriors: Burke, Charnley, Crosby, Farrell, Flower, Goulding, Green, Hansen, Hughes, Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, O'Loughlin, Powell, Richards, Taylor, Thornley, L Tomkins, S Tomkins.

So far this round we have already seen surprise exits for Bradford and Leeds so I am slightly cautious about Wigan as clear winners and as such will got for Hull KR 18 Wigan 30.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Warriors Do The Double Over City Reds

Wigan raced three points clear at the top of the Super League with a comfortable win not affected by four missed conversions on the way to a 40 point victory over Salford.

Wigan flew out of the blocks with a try inside two minutes after a nice pass by Tomkins sent Goulding away down the win and his offload to Charnley allowed the winger to go over for an easy try but with Richards missing the kicking duties went to Smith who missed the first attempt as Wigan led 4-0.

The lead increased six minutes later as O'Loughlin offloaded to Flower who slipped past Sneyd and over for the try but Smith's second miss put Wigan at 8-0 instead of a possible 12.

Salford were in danger of behind left behind as in the 14th minute, Wigan hit their third try as an intercept by Charnley started a great move which saw a run from Green and a superb pass for Gelling to dive over in the corner for the try but as Smith missed the conversion, Gelling left the field with an injury and was replaced by Hughes with Thornley going out to the wing. 12-0

Lauaki's return to the team saw him make an instant impact as his first touch saw him put Wigan in a good position before being tackled and the next move saw the ball come to Tomkins who sidestepped before touching down for the try and Smith's luck deserted him as another conversion went begging and Wigan led 16-0.

Salford pressured forward and forced a goal-line dropout which was well kicked by Wigan and put Salford on the back foot and a combination of Green and Tomkins put Farrell in for his traditional weekly try and Wigan pushed to 22-0 ahead at the break.

Wigan started the second half well and could have had an early try for Hansen who raced clear and right on the try line was tackled by some great chasing defence by Salford but the lead did increase as Tomkins offloaded to Charnley who went in for his second of the night and he converted his own try for a 28-0 lead.

Salford were struggling to get the ball back and Wigan raced forward again and Flower supplied Mossop who went over for his first try since announcing his departure to Paramatta next year and Charnley converted again as Wigan went to 34-0.

Charnley returned the favour for the earlier assist from Tomkins by supplying the full back with a nice pass to seal his second try of the night and Charnley's fourth conversion sent Wigan to the 40 point mark.

Wigan finished their scoring in the 72nd minute as Green ran over for a try which was converted by  Charnley who had 100% success from the boot after taking over from the injured Smith but the night ended with Salford preventing a consecutive nilling by Wigan with a well worked try in the 78th minute as Walne went over and Sneyd's conversion put the score at 46-6.

Wigan celebrated a seventh consecutive win as the hooter sounded and can look forward to a break from the league with a trip to Hull KR in the Challenge Cup on Sunday.

Prediction wise, I was close with 42-10 as a 4 point swing difference enabled me to win some money with a nice bet of a 32-40 point gap.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Noble Returns To The DW

Tomorrow sees Wigan play host to Salford in a game that sees former Wigan coach Brian Noble return to Wigan for the first time since his visit with the Crusaders in 2011.

Noble despite early in his Salford career has revitalised them so much that they saw off Castleford 34-30 in his first game at the helm while counterpart Shaun Wane is looking for a seventh consecutive Super League win for his Wigan side who come off the back of  a hard fought victory away to Hull FC.

The sides met on the opening round of 2013 in which Salford were demolished 42-0 by a Wigan side who silenced all the pre-season doubters after many leading stars departed for the NRL.

Wigan make two changes to the 19 who faced Hull with Gelling and Burke coming in in place of Powell and Richards who has a slight knock on his leg meaning Smith may take over kicking duties.

Wigan - Greg Burke, 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, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins

Salford - Jodie Broughton, Ashley Gibson, Martin Gleeson, Danny Williams, Liam Foran, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Steve Wild, Wayne Godwin, Jordan James, Adam Neal, Theo Fages,
Marc Sneyd, Ryan McGoldrick, Lee Gaskell, Gareth Owen, Darrell Griffin, Adam Walne, Jake Emmitt.

As Wigan are on such a good run of form I cannot see anything other than a win for them despite Salford's revitalisation under Noble so I am going for Wigan 42 Salford 10.