Monday, 29 July 2013

Wigan Cruise Past London To Reach Final

Wigan booked their place in the 2013 Tetley's Challenge Cup Final after a crushing 70-0 win over the London Broncos scoring 12 unanswered tries.

Wigan welcomed back Sam Tomkins, Harrison Hansen and Sean O'Loughlin who all missed out at St Helens and Iain Thornley replaced the injured Anthony Gelling and London were missing Tony Clubb and Michael Witt.

Wigan started the better and took the lead in the 10th minute as a quick break from Goulding split the London defence and saw him race clear and over the line with Richards adding the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

The lead should have been extended six minutes later as Wigan were awarded a penalty but in choosing to kick for goal, Richards hit the kick wide but the lead did increase four minutes later as quick hands from O'Loughlin and Green set up Mossop for the game's second try which was added to by Richards' conversion for 12-0.

London fell further behind two minutes later as Sam Tomkins went over from close range and Richards kicked for a three score lead at 18-0. London's indiscipline was costly as Wigan got good field position and a kick from Smith cannoned off the post and into the waiting hands of Green who scored the try with Richards adding the extras for 24-0.

Wigan were in again as Richards was picked out by Iain Thornley and Sam Tomkins from out wide and the full back set up Richards for a nice try and with 32 minutes gone, his conversion made it 30-0. O'Loughlin raced past a couple of tackles and found Charnley who went in for Wigan's sixth try but proving he is only human, Richards missed but with 28 points in 14 minutes it seemed to easy for Wigan as they lead 34-0 into the break.

Suprisingly, it took Wigan until the 47th minute to extend the lead but nice play saw Scott Taylor go in under the posts to the chant of 'One Scott Taylor' from the Warriors fans on the terrace and Richards hit the goal for a 40-0 lead. Smith was next on the score sheet as he spotted a gap in the London defence to dash through and over in the 51st minute as the fans went wild with Richards making it a 46-0 lead from the boot.

As the hour mark drew close, a great pass from O'Loughlin found Richards in open space and he strolled over for his second of the gameand brought up the 50 point mark before converting for 52-0.

It was becoming a case of not if Wigan would score again but when and how big a win would it be with London hoping not to be the first side nilled in a semi since Hull KR in 2006 and Farrell struck next as Richards kicked for 58-0. Iain Thornley cut inside a tired London defence for a nice try which Richards added his 10th conversion for 64-0.

The humilation for London ended with Charnley hitting his second try and Richards kicking to reach 70 points and securing a double record for Wigan with the highest semi final win beating their own 71-10 win over Bradford in 1992 and personally breaking Frano Botica's record from the '92 semi with 30 points.

Many expected a Wigan win but few predicted such a crushing win, my own prediction of 40-12 was a total score that Wigan hit within an hour but a good game despite the small attendance and the joy of celebrating and booking a dream trip to Wembley made for a great day.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Warriors Face Broncos In Semi

After a disappointing defeat away to St Helens on Monday, Wigan make the short trip to Leigh Sports Village to face London Broncos in the Challenge Cup Semi Final.

Wigan will be very confident after putting 112 points past London over the two league meetings this season but many fans are erring with caution as back in 2007, they faced a Catalans side who were in a similar position to London as they had defeated them 30-0 weeks earlier only to be beaten 24-37.

Wigan welcome back Sam Tomkins, Harrison Hansen and Sean O'Loughlin while Iain Thornley replaces the injured Anthony Gelling.

London have Tony Clubb and Michael Witt missing but are able to include Wigan loanee Rhodri Lloyd and their new star Jamie Soward.

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

London Broncos: Bryant, Colbon, Cook, Dorn, Fairbank, Fisher, Kaufusi, Krasniqi, Lee, Lloyd, McMeeken, Melling, O'Callaghan, Robertson, Rodney, Sarginson, Soward, Woodburn-Hall, Wheeldon.

The trio returning for Wigan makes me think that London will need a miracle to reach the final and as such I am going for Wigan 48 London 12.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Warriors Indiscipline Sees Saints Win

Huddersfield's victory on Sunday meant the pressure was on Wigan to return to the top of Super League as they travelled to Langtree Park to face St Helens.

Wigan fans were cautious in the build-up to the game with the mercurial Sam Tomkins and the talismanic Sean O'Loughlin and Harrison Hansen missing against a Saints team in great form.

So it was no surprise that Saints made the better start as McCarthy-Scarsbrook found a gap in the middle but was only denied by a superb tackle by Hampshire, but Saints forced a drop-out and were soon over for the opening score as Meli offloaded to Swift who raced over the line and O'Brien added the extras for a 6-0 lead.

Swift was soon in for his second with Lomax being the provider by spotting a gap in the Wigan defence and giving the winger an easy run to the line which was added to by O'Brien's conversion for a 12-0 lead inside 17 minutes.

Wigan needed a response but a knock on on the Saints line followed by a forward pass from Green to Gelling took the pressure off but the were rewarded in the 25th minute as Hampshire earned a penalty after being taken out after a grubber and a set of quick hands to the left saw Richards in space  to go over for a super try but miss the conversion to make it 12-4.

Both sides pushed for the next try and just before the interval, Wigan gave themselves hope of a comeback as a high diagonal kick from former Saint Matty Smith was knocked by Swift leaving Charnley with an easy touchdown in the corner but again Richards missed so Wigan were 12-8 behind into the break.

Saints could have had a perfect start to the second period as substitute Greenwood raced clear only to  drop the ball on the line after superb pressure by Hampshire and the full back had his reward as a slick one handed flick to Charnley sent the winger racing over the line to put Wigan in front as Richards added the extras for a 12-14 lead.

Wigan were penalised as Taylor went in hard on O'Brien who left the field which saw Taylor put on report and Makinson kick the penalty to being the score level at 14 all. Wigan pushed on the next set but on the 5th tackle, the entire stadium was in awe as Richards arrowed a kick from the touchline that flew over the posts for a drop goal from 40 metres and sent the East stand wild as Wigan led 14-15.

Wigan's discipline cost them again as Dudson was penalised for foul play and Wigan were put on a Team Warning but Makinson surprisingly missed the penalty and minutes later repeated his failure from a similar position to leave Saints 14-15 behind when they should have led 18-15.

The lack of a leader for Wigan was clear as another incident this time for offside saw Green sin binned and Turner took over the kicking duties and dispatched the penalty to put Saints 16-15 up.

Smith hit a drop goal for Wigan to level the scores but to no avail as in the final minutes a break by Makinson from his own line to 10 metres from the Wigan line allowed Greenwood to race over the line and sent the Saints faithful wild as Turner added the extras to give Saints a 22-16 lead and break Wigan hearts.

The hooter sounded and Saints celebrated a famous win while Wigan reflected on a third defeat in four and a second consecutive away loss after leading with ten minutes remaining at Wire and here at Saints.

The thoughts now move to a crucial Challenge Cup Semi Final against London on Saturday but a defeat in the derby is always hard to take with hopes that revenge may come in the end of season playoffs.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Warriors Travel To Face Saints

Wigan make the short trip over to St Helens for the derby fixture at Langtree Park tomorrow while hoping to reclaim top spot should Huddersfield win today.

Wigan hold the advantage of ruining Saints first home derby at Langtree Park last year after ruining their last derby at Knowsley Road back in 2010 so Saints would like to finally claim a home victory over their rivals.

Wigan have won four of the last six against Saints but lost on the final day last year while claiming the League Leaders Shield so both love to ruin each others celebrations and with Wigan reaching the Challenge Cup Semis, confidence is high despite the side-lining of Sam Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin and Harrison Hansen.

Wigan include the returning Scott Taylor and will surely hand Ryan Hampshire the full back slot after scoring his first try in the win over Widnes while Saints include Anthony Laffranchi who returns from compassionate leave whilst Stuart Howarth is recalled for the injured James Roby.

Saints - 1. Paul Wellens, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 16. Paul Clough, 19. Josh Jones, 21. Tom Makinson, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 33. Luke Thompson, 36. Stuart Howarth, 37. Gareth O'Brien, 38. Greg Richards.

Wigan - 2. Josh Charnley, 3. Darrell Goulding, 4. Jack Hughes, 5. Pat Richards, 6. Blake Green, 7. Matty Smith, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Lee Mossop, 12. Liam Farrell, 15. Ben Flower, 16. Chris Tuson, 20. Gil Dudson, 21.Scott Taylor, 22. Anthony Gelling, 23. Logan Tomkins, 24. Sam Powell, 26. Dominic Crosby, 29. Greg Burke, 32. Ryan Hampshire.

As the semi final is under a week away, Wigan may need to get ahead and kill Saints off early so as not to burn out for the semi but I will go for a Wigan win of 36-12.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Warriors Crush Vikings To Reach Semi

Wigan sealed a place in the Challenge Cup Semi Final against London with a crushing win over an error-strewn Widnes last night.

Wigan welcomed back Sam Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin to the side after being sidelined in recent weeks and were influential early on as Green broke away only to fumble with the line in sight.

Widnes lost possession in a series of errors which saw Charnley scoop up the ball and race down the wing to score under the sticks to wild applause from the home fans and Richards' easy conversion put Wigan 6-0 up.

Two minutes later, Widnes fooled around with the ball with three fumbles in succession and again Charnley was on hand to collect the ball and race unchallenged to the line and seal the easiest brace of his career with another easy kick from Richards making it 12-0.

Widnes fell three scores behind inside 18 minutes as a superb pass from Green to Hansen sent him clear and in racing towards the line, he picked out Tomkins in support who flew over the line for an easy score and Richards hit a third conversion for an 18-0 lead.

Widnes needed to stop their errors to prevent a thrashing but they failed to learn their lesson as another error in the 20th minute saw a carbon copy of the previous try as Hansen picked out Tomkins who went over only to be denied via the Video Ref and Widnes blushes were saved with a scrum awarded.

Wigan couldn't believe their look as Hansen broke clear and found Farrell who had three in support and offloaded to Smith who went over for a superb try and Richards converted for a 24-0 lead and Widnes were quickly falling out of the game. Widnes had a great chance in the 31st minute as Ah Van broke away down the wing but the lack of support saw him tackled before the line but he did get on the score sheet within a minute as a slick kick by Brown was collected by the winger who swept over for the try with Owens missing the conversion, Widnes were 24-4 behind.

Brown went from hero to villain as an erroneous pass saw Charnley collect and race 90 metres to score and seal a gifted hat trick - scoring all three without receiving a pass and Richards kept up his 100% success rate with the conversion for a half time lead of 30-4.

Widnes needed a good start to the second half to keep the chance of a comeback hopeful but from the kick off they conceded a drop-out with the catch being in touch and Wigan used the gift as Farrell raced clear to the line after a nice pass from O'Loughlin to widen the gap as Richards kicked for a 36-4 lead.

Wigan took Tomkins off with the job seemingly done and on came young Hampshire to deputise at full back and minutes later, O'Loughlin also came off with Dudson replacing him and the Welshman made an instant impact by collecting a pass from Green to race towards the line and pick out Hampshire who went over for his first senior try in Cherry and White and Richards made it 42-4 with his seventh conversion.

An error from Wigan prevented them from extending the lead as a Goulding intercepted a Widnes pass only to drop with a clear field ahead of him but Wigan did hit an eighth try in the 66th minute as a drop by Mellor saw Green collect and race to the line for a well deserved try with Richards kicking for a 48-4 lead.

Widnes needed a miracle and nearly hit back as Hanbury broke the Wigan line but a pass to Phelps was fumbled and Wigan regained possession, but Widnes soon had a another go and Hanbury and Clarke combined to pick out Ah Van but the winger's pass couldn't find Phelps and meant another chance wasted.

The final seconds ticked down and Ah Van tested the Wigan line only to be forced into touch followed by celebration by the Wigan players as the hooter sounded to confirm a comfortable win and seal a tie against London in a fortnight.

A good game made easy by Widnes' errors and prediction wise, 36-12 was looking on until Widnes collapsed in the second half but 48-4 not too far off but the negative was the attendance as 6.327 is poor. The game may have been on TV but so will Saints on Monday and there will be twice the crowd so there is no excuse why it was so empty.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Warriors Host Vikings In Challenge Cup

After a long wait since the draw back in May, Wigan return to the Challenge Cup by playing host to Widnes who they have twice beaten this season.

Widnes will have some confidence having come close to victory in the last meeting only to lose late on by 32-33 after a youthful Wigan side edged them out. This time round Wigan will be stronger so Widnes will need to up their game in order to take a step closer to a famous Wembley final.

Since the last meeting, Wigan have lost twice (Warrington/Castleford) and have failed to rack up more than 30 points in a game so Widnes know that the Wigan attack will be lacking in confidence and can try to capitalise. Wigan have also been lacking in defence so a massive turnaround is needed in order to claim a place in the semi-finals.

Wigan welcome back the talismanic Sam Tomkins and O'Loughlin to the 19 man squad but both are 90% to play so Hampshire and Tuson may continue at 1 and 13.

Wigan Warriors: Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Flower, Goulding, Burke, Hansen, Hughes, Tuson, Mossop, O'Loughlin, Green, Richards, Smith, Farrell, Gelling, Hampshire, S. Tomkins, McIlorum.
Widnes Vikings: Ah Van, Allen, K. Brown, Cahill, Clarke, Craven, Gerrard, Gore, Hanbury, Isa, Joseph, Kavanagh, Lawton, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, O'Carroll, Owens, Winterstein.

As it is a cup tie, form goes out the window but I feel with a tough run-in that Wigan will come through strong and seal a place in the next round so I am going for Wigan 36 Widnes 12.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Warriors Snatch Win From Bulls

A last minute try by Chris Tuson secured a vital win for Wigan which kept them top of the table after a massive comeback in the final minutes against a resilient Bradford who led 14-20.

Wigan got off to an amazing start with the opening try inside two minutes as debutant Hampshire fired a pass to Thornley who raced through the defence and picked out Charnley who ran clear over the line for the try but a difficult conversion was missed by Richards and Wigan led 4-0.

Bradford hit back in the 15th minute as a break down the left by Foster allowed Platt to get in good space and collect the ball before going over for the try which was well converted by Foster and gave Bradford the lead at 4-6. The visitors could have gone further ahead within minutes but Wood was pulled into touch after good Wigan defending.

Bradford did extend their lead though in the 25th minute as a high kick from Gale was missed by Hampshire while under pressure and led to Sidlow grounding for the try which was converted by Foster for a 4-12 lead. Wigan pushed to get another score and gave the ball away via a Gelling knock on which was soon costly as Bateman went over for a try despite being pressured by two Wigan defenders and despite Foster missing the conversion it was a comfortable 4-16 lead at half time.

Wigan hoped to make a good start to the second half but good defence from Bradford kept them out despite forcing an early drop out. However, it was Bradford who hit the first points of the half after being awarded a dubious penalty after what looked like a one on one steal by Charnley was given as a chance to kick at goal for Foster who duly obliged for a 4-18 lead.

Wigan forced another drop out after nice work from Dudson but were unable to convert it into a try but their luck changed in the 65th minute as a rampaging run by Hampshire saw him pass to Charnley who raced over the line but Richards' missed conversion meant Wigan were 8-18 behind.

Wigan went in again as Farrell burst through the Bradford defence to run clear and spied Tuson in support who collected the pass and raced under the posts to give Wigan hope of a great comeback which was added to with Richards' successful conversion which brought it to 14-18.

Wigan were penalised and Bradford had a penalty in a good position and elected to kick at goal which saw Foster convert to regain a six point lead at 14-20 and from the kick off a Scruton error gave Wigan good position but a knock on with the try line in sight cost them the chance to score.

Five minutes to go and the comeback was truly on as Thornley sped through a gap and raced over the line for a crucial try which was superbly converted by Richards to level at 20 all and from the kick off, Wigan pushed for the win and Smith attempted a drop goal but the attempt cannoned back off the defence to dent Wigan hopes.

However, Tuson broke free and had the home fans on their feet as he raced towards the line before diving over the line to a rapturous celebration by his team mates and fans with Richards brilliant conversion sweeping Wigan into a 26-20 lead.

The hooter sounded and Wigan had secured a last-gasp win after an average fifty minutes against a good Bradford side who were unlucky not to repeat last year's success at the DW but the fight off Wigan ensured they stayed clear at the top.

An amazing end to a good game of Rugby and despite being slightly wide on the score prediction the win was the main thing as well as another successful pick for the first try in Charnley.

Att - 13,213.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Warriors host Bulls

After two consecutive defeats to Warrington and Castleford, Wigan look to get back to winning ways and maintain their hold on the top of the league by playing host to Bradford.

Wigan will be cautious not only because of the poor form in recent games but also because of the shock defeat they were dealt when the teams last met at the DW in June 2012 when Wigan on a thirteen game winning run similar to this season fell to a 22-30 defeat against a resolute Bradford who had secured financial safety.

Both sides have key players out with Wigan again missing Sam Tomkins just like last year when Jack Murphy deputised but this time it may be Ryan Hampshire at full back on Friday night, a positive is the return of Ben Flower who has been sidelined since the victory away at Wakefield and Epalahame Lauaki. 

Bradford are missing Jamie Langley and Jarrod Sammut who ahve both been influential for the Bulls this season and will be a massive miss but a positive for the Bulls is the return of Luke Gale who missed the Warrington game due to the sadness of losing his mother.

Wigan-Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Ryan Hampshire, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Epalahame Lauaki, Michael McIlorum, Andy Powell, Sam Powell, Pat Richards,Matty Smith, Logan Tomkins, Chris Tuson

Bradford - James Donaldson, Oliver Roberts, Chev Walker, Adam Sidlow, Luke Gale, Elliot Kear, Nick Scruton, John Bateman, Heath L'Estrange, Michael Platt, Keith Lulia, Adrian Purtell, Adam O'Brien, Manase Manuokafoa, Danny Addy, Jamie Foster, Matt Diskin, Matty Blythe and Ben Evans.

Due to the recent losses, Wigan need to really step up on Friday night and Bradford will be hoping to repeat last years surprise win at the DW so I am going for a Wigan win by 20 - Wigan 40 Bradford 20.