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.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Warriors Travel To Face Vikings

After Sunday's hard fought win at Wakefield, Wigan continue their run of away matches with the short trip to Widnes.

The sides meet in the Challenge Cup quarter final next month so tomorrow will give Widnes the chance to repeat the surprise victory in last season's fixture while Wigan will be hoping to extend their 12 game winning streak.

It has been a mixed week for Wigan with a number of their starting 13 picking up injuries, Richards, Tomkins and  O'Loughlin are the main worries with McIlorum out after an operation and Flower due to have an operation in the near future while Farrell and Smith also miss out with Green and Dudson still sidelined.

The injury crisis means that debuts will be handed to half-back Ryan Hampshire and full back Lewis Tierney, the son of the great Jason Robinson so hopefully they will fit in well while Greenwood and Williams are in line to feature in what will be a very young team.

Widnes Vikings: Ah Van, Allen, Brown, Cahill, Clarke, Dean, Flynn, Hanbury, Isa, Joseph, Kavanagh, Leuluai, Mellor, O'Carroll, Owens, Phelps, Pickersgill, White, Winterstein.
Wigan Warriors: Burke, Charnley, Crosby, Gelling, Goulding, Greenwood, Hampshire, Hansen, Hughes, Lauaki, Mossop, Powell, Spencer, Taylor, Tierney, Thornley, L. Tomkins, Tuson, Williams.

I think that despite the side being slightly inexperienced they will do well in front of the Sky cameras and as such will go for Widnes 12 Wigan 36

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Warriors Edge Win Over Wildcats

Wigan made it 12 wins in succession with a close fought win over a battling Wakefield side to go five points clear at the top of the table.

Wigan opened the scoring on their first attack in the sixth minute as quick hands from Tomkins and Smith allowed Goulding to sweep a pass out to Charnley who flew in at the corner with Richards adding the conversion for a 0-6 lead.

Eight minutes later and the away side were in again after Wakefield conceded a penalty for offside, Charnley capitalised and snuck over for his and Wigan's second try but Richards missed the conversion putting Wigan 0-10 to the good.

Wakefield pulled one back in the 19th minute as Wigan were penalised for offside and a quick tap and play to the right gave Collis space to dive over and Smith added the goal bringing them to 6-10 but they added a quick second as Kirmond found a gap in the Wigan defence to go over and Smith's second goal gave the home side the lead.

Wigan should have regained the lead in the 35th minute but Tuson was unable to ground the ball from close range and it proved costly as at the other end a missed tackle gave Wood good space and he hit Wakefield's third and despite Smith missing the conversion, they led 16-10.

As the hooter sounded, Smith hit a superb drop goal from 40 metres to increase the lead to 17-10 at half time and give Wigan an uphill task in the second period.

Wigan took to their task instantly as within a minute of the restart, Tomkins making good yards from the kick off and a powering run from Flower got Wigan closer to the line resulting in Hansen grounding after a turn in the tackle with Richards converting to narrow the score to 17-16.

Wigan could have taken the lead after a clever Powell kick to the corner but Richards was unable to gather the ball as Wakefield were left short out wide. Wakefield increased the lead in he 52nd minute as Kirmond swept threw the middle to go under the posts and Cockayne added the extras for a 23-16 lead.

Charnley sealed his hat-trick on the hour mark after a Wood kick went out on the full on the final tackle and Richards added the goal to bring it down to a single point at 23-22. A superb 40/20 by Matty Smith gave Wigan a great opportunity to pressure the Wildcats line but a forward pass wasted the chance but Wigan regained the line nine minutes from the end as McIlorum found Mossop who dived under the stick and Richards' goal put them 23-28 up.

 Richards swept over a penalty with four minutes to go to open up a seven point lead and Wigan completed the comeback with barely minutes to go as Goulding went over and Richards' final conversion sealed a 23-36 win and kept the unbeaten run intact.

In the preview, I did predict with the caution that Wakefield would repeat their performance from earlier in the season and a 13 point win was a surprise after I had predicted a 22 point margin and on hindsight thought that would be a low guess but as i suggested during the commentary, Wakefield have been top scorers against Wigan in each game yet sit 10th in the standings so what are they doing wrong against the other 12 sides that is keeping them in that position.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Warriors Travel To Face Wildcats

A battling win against Leeds last Sunday still in their minds, Wigan travel to Wakefield on Sunday with hopes of continuing their 11 game winning streak against a side that can boast about being the top scorers against Wigan this season.

Wakefield surprisingly scored 24 points in the reverse fixture in April, a feat not achieved by any other side including the likes of Warrington (17) and Leeds (16) and at times looked the better side before ending on a 20 point deficit losing 44-24.

However, their defeat against Castleford at Magic will have dented their spirits as they sit 10th in the table only four points off the 'top 8' but the same amount off the bottom. The highlight of their visit to the DW would be the breakaway try by Aiton which looked to spur a comeback.

Negatively though  many will remember that the Wildcats played most of the game with 12 after Poore was sent off for a punch on Wigan's Farrell and the two are likely to face each other again on Sunday.

Wakefield welcome back Danny Kirmond, but Paul Aiton, Ali Lauitiiti, Tim Smith and Paul Sykes will all miss out with Frankie Mariano, Kyle Wood, Olly Wilkes, Vince Mellars, Matty Wilde and Lucas Walshaw are all in contention to make the 17.

Wigan include Greg Burke and Scott Taylor in their 19-man squad but a knock against Leeds rules out captain Sean O'Loughlin while Blake Green and Gil Dudson are still sidelined.

Wakefield Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Smith, Cockayne, Poore, Raleigh, Kirmond, Washbrook, Wood, Amor, Wilkes, Mariano, Mellars, Lyne, Wildie, Walshaw, Annakin, Tautai.
Wigan Warriors: Burke, Charnley, Crosby, Farrell, Flower, Goulding, Hansen, Hughes, Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, Powell, Richards, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, L Tomkins, S Tomkins, Tuson.

Surely there will be no surprise on the cards here and Wigan will march clear at the top of the table but I will err with caution and go for Wakefield 18 Wigan 40.