Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wigan v Hull - The Rematch

Friday night sees the Challenge Cup finalists face each other for the second time in a week as Hull look for revenge for the nilling they suffered as Wigan were victorious at Wembley on Saturday.

Wigan are looking to go unbeaten over three games against Hull this year which began with a tight encounter in April which Wigan won 20-28 thanks to a succession of penalties by Pat Richards late on. Hull will be looking to prevent that and claim a win that would give them momentum going into the final round and the playoffs.

Due to the celebrations and homecoming parade by Wigan on Monday, it was always likely that a 'weakened' side would be named for the league game and and that is why the likes of Richards, Charnley, Farrell, Tomkins and McIlorum are rested with Goulding and O'Loughlin are injured.

This means a debut spot the 19 for Dom Manfredi who has excelled for the under 19's while the other 18 all have some experience with Dudson, Flower, Gelling, Thornley, Tuson and Tomkins all having played over half of the league games this season.

Hull include Josh Bowden, Dean Hadley, Paul Johnson and Liam Kent who replace the injured Gareth Ellis, Andy Lynch and Mark O’Meley, while former New Zealand hooker Aaron Heremaia is suspended after taking an Early Guilty Plea to a dangerous tackle in the Wembley defeat.

Wigan- Joe Burgess, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, James Greenwood, Jack Hughes, Ryan Hampshire, Rhodri Lloyd, Dominic Manfredi, Andy Powell, Sam Powell, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Lewis Tierney, Logan Tomkins, Chris Tuson, Tom Spencer, George Williams.

Hull - Briscoe, Bowden, Crookes, Crooks, Green, Hadley, Horne, Holdsworth, Houghton, Johnson, Kent, Miller, Pitts, Shaul, Tickle, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman

If this game had been at a different time of the season, the squad for Wigan would be stronger but as the league means nothing anymore compare to the playoffs, Wigan have rested and can go as far as playing a completely different 13 from Saturday and if so I would go for a win for Hull as the quest for revenge will prove to be the main factor. Wigan 24 Hull 28. If Wigan play the experienced lads in the 19 then would go for Wigan 24 Hull 20.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Wigan Nil Hull In Wembley Win

Sam Tomkins' late try sealed a 19th Challenge Cup for Wigan over an error-strewn Hull FC.

Both sides were cautious in the build-up due to the heavy rain but from the kick-off, Richards kicked out on the full to give Hull a penalty and put pressure on Wigan but good defence kept them out.

Green forces a mistake from Crooks and Richards went over the line only to be held up on his back but Wigan pushed and earned two dropouts as Hull scrambled defensively.

But on the 20 minute mark, a knock on by Crooks have Wigan field position and Thornley took advantage by evading a Tickle tackle to go over for the opening try which joined by Richards' kick saw Wigan lead 6-0.
They could have been further ahead as McIlorum spied a gap but Yeaman denied a second try. Miller fumbled and from the scrum, McIlorum had a chance but lost the ball near the line 

Crooks could have cost Hull again in the 32nd minute but they pushed on and came close to levelling only for Tickle to drop near the try line.

As the hooter blasted, Smith attempted a drop goal but narrowly missed meaning Wigan led 6-0 at the interval.

Hull went 8-0 behind inside two minutes of the second period as Whiting committed a High Tackle on Taylor and Richards successfully kicked for goal.

Hull should have scored in the 48th minute as a break by Shaul saw him caught and denied a certain try by a lightning chase by Charnley not dissimilar to the save he made on Brough last week.

A long delay ensured as Goulding was carried off on a stretcher and with Hull in a great position, they knocked on and a resulting kick from Smith forced a dropout with Shaul tackled in goal.

8-0 became 10-0 as Richards kicked a penalty after O'Loughlin was taken out and the fans behind the sticks gasped as the kick bounced over via the post.

Hull pushed to close the gap but errors crept in and a vital win for Wigan was completed as Sam Tomkins went over to a chaotic cheer by the fans in front of him and Richards' kick meant an unassailable 16-0.

Matty Smith received the Lance Todd trophy as man of the match and Wigan celebrated a 19th Challenge Cup title with their fans .

A way off the prediction but the result matters more as I completed a lifelong dream and a unique trilogy with today joining my Grand Final win of 2010 and the League Leaders Shield win from last year but for Hull, revenge can be served as soon as Friday night at the DW.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Challenge Cup Final Sees Wigan Play Hull

Back in October, 40 teams played in the First Qualifying round with the dream of gracing Wembley in a showpiece final and across the year a further 56 teams have taken part in the quest for glory but tomorrow sees the remaining two sides meet in a repeat of the classic '85 final.

Hull FC and Wigan Warriors face off to become the 2013 Challenge Cup winners with Wigan looking for their nineteenth title and Hull their fourth while also hoping to avenge the defeat they suffered in the 1985 clash.

Wigan go into the final as favourites after they eased past London but many neutrals will favour Hull after the amazing performance they showed in crusing over Warrington in the semi final in what was a shock result with a Wigan/Warrington final being the prediction at the start of the season.

Wigan welcome back Darrell Goulding and captain Sean O'Loughlin with the latter being a factor for many as to why Wigan have had such bad recent form but the squad picked is as strong as is possible so there should be no excuses this time round.

Hull recall Mark O'Meley, Richard Horne and Ben Crooks but Joe Arundel and the influential Tom Lineham are missing due to injury and are also likely to miss the 'rematch' between the two sides in the Super League on Friday.

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

Hull -Briscoe, Crookes, Crooks, Ellis, Green, Heremaia, Horne, Holdsworth, Houghton, Lynch, Miller, O'Meley, Pitts, Shaul, Tickle, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman

Form goes out of the window when it comes to the cup and for Wigan that is a blessing but I think that with a number of players who have experienced major finals, they will come away as winners so I am going for Wigan 30 Hull 18

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dragons Flying Win Over Warriors

Wembley is a just under a week away as Wigan travelled to the South of France to face Catalan with hopes of going second in the table after Warrington's shock loss on Thursday.

Wigan started well with their best chance coming as Richards powered down the wing but was denied by the defending Blanch who tackled him into touch, Catalan posted the opening try as Vaccardi went over from Webb's pass but referee Ben Thaler went to the screen and after a long delay the try was awarded with Bosc kicking to lead 6-0.

Wigan had a double chance to level the score as Green kicked through after a break by Charnley but the kick went dead and set up Farrell only to be denied aftet the pass was deemed to be forward.

However, Wigan were level just before the interval as a short pass from Logan Tomkins set up Scott Taylor who flew past Fakir to go over under the posts and an easy kick from Richards made it 6 all.

Recently it has been Wigan's indiscipline has cost them and today was no different as straight after the break, Bosc kicked a penalty to give Catalan an 8-6 lead but soon Richards kicked a penalty and the scores were level at 8 all.

Unfortunately, that was Wigan's last score of the evening and Catalan edged ahead as Bosc kicked  two further penalties to make it 12-6 which soon became 16-6 as Menzies scored a try in the 63rd minute.

Pelissier slipped past Hansen and Dudson to increase the Dragons lead and Bosc's 5th goal made it 22-8, Wigan did have a chance to reduce the deficit as Smith's 40-20 missed touch but allowed Charnley to create a chance which sadly was ruled unsuccessful and confirmed a second consecutive loss and meant Wigan's hopes of retaining the League Leaders Shield are looking very unlikely as they stay third.

As the next game sees Wigan face Hull in the CC final, I like many people on the forums hoped for a win to build confidence ahead of the tie but after the humbling in Perpignan and the defeat last week to Huddersfield it seems the excitement of the showpiece final has slipped as confidence is low and the last thing anyone wants is to be on a long coach ride home after losing to a team we then face days later in the league.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Warriors Travel To France to Face Dragons

The trip to Wembley is only a week away as Wigan make the long trip to Perpignan to face Catalan in what is a critical game in the chase for the League Leaders Shield and the play-offs despite some fans suggesting the game is nothing in comparison to the Challenge Cup Final.

Due to a bad run of form, Wigan need to win on Saturday to have any chance of retaining the LLS and face Catalan who like themselves have had mixed form but came away from Bradford last week with a 22-23 victory to surely confirm a play-off place.

Catalan are sat in sixth but with Saints two points ahead in 5th and Bradford only six points and a slight points difference behind in ninth, a win is a must to try and secure a home draw in the play-offs while for Wigan, the joy of seeing rivals Warrington stunned by Widnes last night means a win pushes them back to second place ahead of the double-header with  Hull.

Both sides have injury concerns with Catalan missing Louis Anderson, Jason Baitieri Zeb Taia, Mickael Simon, Daryl Millard, and Rémi Casty while Wigan are without Sean O'Loughlin and Darrell Goulding but Sam Tomkins does travel amid rumours that he will be announced next week as a signing for the NRL's New Zealand Warriors.

Catalan -Brent Webb, Damien Blanch, Leon Pryce, Thomas Bosc, Scott Dureau, Olivier Elima, Ian Henderson, Steve Menzies, Greg Mounis, Antoni Maria,  Eloi Pelissier, Kevin Larroyer,  Julian Bousquet, Jamal Fakir, Lopini Paea, Vincent Duport, Frédéric Vaccari, Elliott Whitehead, Benjamin Garcia.

Wigan -Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson.

Recent meetings have seen Wigan come out top including earlier this season as they won 38-0 at the DW but this time I think will be closer so I am going for Catalan 18 Wigan 30

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Giants Clear After Defeating Warriors

Wigan missed the chance to regain top spot from Huddersfield after going down to a 12-30 defeat as the Giants completed a double over the Warriors .

The pre-match headline was the news that Sam Tomkins was out with a back spasm and as a result, Ryan Hampshire had to deputise for a second week after coming in last minute against Hull KR.

Wigan started the better and after two minutes went over for a try through Hansen but Child went to the screen and on review it wad judged that Hansen was held up so Wigan went back to the 10m for the 5th tackle and superb kick by Green was palmed by Charnley for Sam Powell to dive on for the opening try. Richards added the extras and Wigan were off to a flying start at 6-0.

Huddersfield should have pulled back within minutes with two chances to score, the first saw Crabtree knock on with the try line in sight and the second came as Brough intercepted a pass and raced clear only to be caught and tackled by Wigan's answer to Usain Bolt in Josh Charnley who miraclulously caught Brough up after trailing at the interception.

Huddersfield did level the score but it took until the 16th minute as Brough kicked into open space on the left and Murphy went over for an easy try which suprisingly was given via the video referee when it was clear from sitting in the stands but Brough added the extras for 6 all.

The game came to life in the 27th minute as deputising full back Hampshire's quick hands to Goulding allowed him to pick out Charnley who bolted past a Giants defender before whizzing past the covering Brough and under the sticks for his 39th try of the season and surely must be a contender for Man of Steel this season with former winner Pat Richards adding the extras for a 12-6 lead.

However, Huddersfield levelled again as Chan went over after Wigan conceded a penalty and Brough's kick made it 12 all but he could habe sent his side into the break in front as right on the hooter, he attempted a drop goal from 40 metres out which sailed wide so 12 all at half time.

Huddersfield made the perfect start to the second half with a controversial try as Ferres went over and was awarded the try by Child but in the build-up it was clear that a blatant forward pass had been seen by all but the referee and as Brough missed the goal the jeers of the Wigan fans turned to boos for Child who somehow didn't see the forward pass.

Brough tried to make up for his conversion miss with a penalty goal minutes later after Powell was penalised for being offside but the kick missed and the lead remained at four points.

Four soon became ten just before the hour as Grix hit a grubber through the Warriors defence only to somehow get to it before the Wigan runners did and he touched down for the try and this time Brough hit a clever conversion for a score of 12-22 leaving Wigan with much to do to win.

Wigan's hopes were dented as Murphy hit his second try as he was set up by Wardle and raced through the Wigan defence to score and with Brough's goal, Huddersfield had a 12-28 lead. Wigan soon thought they had scored as Green went for the try and Child went to the screen but to the groans of the Wigan fans, Green was shown to have touched down short of the line .

Huddersfield extended their lead and guaranteed a three point lead in the league table as Lauaki conceded a penalty and Brough kicked successfully for a lead of 18 points at 12-30 which was the final score as the hooter sounded making Wigan's hopes of the treble slim and putting Huddersfield favourites for the League Leaders Shield with three rounds to go.

A bad night for Wigan on the night that the heroes of the past graced the DW pitch but it was the sight of current hero Sam Tomkins sat in the dugout that had the fans pre-match hopes go from hopeful to cautious which has become the tradition when the fullback has been missing. At the time of writing, Wigan sadly sit third in the table after Warrington beat Wakefield yesterday and with a tough trip to Catalan in a week it will take a big effort to regain top two status.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Top Two Face Off At The DW On Heritage Day

Friday night sees the battle of the league's top two at the DW as Huddersfield who are currently a single point clear at the top make the trip to second place Wigan who are celebrating their annual Heritage Day.

This year's Heritage Day sees Wigan hand out Heritage numbers to current and past players with the landmark #1000 being current number nine - Michael McIlorum and the legendary Billy Boston being #553.

Huddersfield will be looking for their first double over Wigan since 2009 which saw them win 8-22 and 48-16 and after a 22-10 win at the John Smith's stadium back in February against a Wigan side minus Sam Tomkins among others, they will be wary of a tougher game from Wigan.

Good news for the Warriors fans is that this time around Sam Tomkins is fit to face the Giants alongside returns for Pat Richards, Liam Farrell and Gil Dudson but unfortunately Matty Smith, Ben Flower and captain Sean O'Loughlin all miss out due to leg injuries.

Huddersfield welcome back Shaun Lunt, Jason Chan and Dale Ferguson as they hope to go three points clear at the top of the league and give themsleves a great chance of a first League Leaders Shield.

Wigan: Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hansen, Hughes, Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, S. Powell, Richards, Taylor, Thornley, L. Tomkins, S. Tomkins, Tuson.
Huddersfield: Grix, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Faiumu, Lawrence, Patrick, Chan, Ta'ai, Murphy, Cording, Ferguson, Wood.

The returns coupled with the trio who miss out may make this a very close game but I think as Huddersfield have only the League to focus on they will go for broke and could come unstuck so I am going for a tight Wigan win of Wigan 24 Huddersfield 20.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Wigan Defeat Hull KR To Go Top

Wigan's return to Super League action saw a narrow 21-16 win over a resilient Hull KR on Friday night to send them back to the top of the league.

Wigan handed a debut to Joe Burgess on the wing and a late dropout by Sam Tomkins due to illness saw Ryan Hampshire take his place at full back while three former Warriors lined up for the Rovers, Sean Gleeson, Michael Dobson and David Hodgson.

The early stages saw both sides exchange penalties and Wigan had a great chance to open the scoring only for Hansen to knock on with the try line in sight and a bad injury to Cox caused a long delay in play but luckily he was able to walk rather than be stretchered off.

Wigan took the lead in the 13th minute after a superb run by Hall saw him put into touch by Burgess who then went on an amazing run which included quick hands from Wigan to enable Charnley to go in for the try in open space but failing to convert his own try put the score at 4-0.

Rovers responded in the 17th minute as a pacy run and pass by Mika allowed full back Greg Eden over for a try through a gap in the defence and an easy goal by Dobson handed Rovers a 4-6 lead.

Both sides exchanged penalties as they committed a number of errors and Rovers extended their lead in the 35th minute as a quick run by Dobson split the Wigan defence and went over for an easy try which but his missed conversion made it a six point gap at 4-10.

Wigan attempted to level the score and a succession of penalties saw Rovers given a team warning and Lauaki looked to have scored a comeback try but on review he had come up short but within minutes, Wigan were back level as a Smith kick was taken by Charnley who set up the in-running Goulding for a try right on the hooter and Charnley's successful kick made it 10 all at the break.

As the second half began,  Rovers knew the next penalty would see them drop to 12 men temporarily and it took barely five minutes as Withers was sin binned for a professional foul on Hampshire and Wigan took advantage as Smith's quick pass saw Goulding pick out Charnley who went over for the try.

Silverwood went to the screen and after extensive review the try was awarded as Charnley was at full stretch to touchdown and despite missing the goal, Wigan led 14-10 but it could have been even better for Wigan as Charnley went in again after a clever kick from Goulding but on review it was deemed he had 'bounced' the ball in touching down so the lead remained at four.

The crowd roared as Burgess raced down the wing looking for his first senior try but put a foot in touch as he attempted to touch down as the Rovers defence was stretched but they were denied a try of their own ust after the hour mark as Hodgson went over only to be denied after he was in touch on the review.

Wigan extended their lead as Gelling went in with six minutes to go to put the score at 20-10 and a drop goal from Smith surely sealed the win at 21-10 but Hull KR were not accepting that as Tuimavave went over for a try and Dobson's goal created a tense final few minutes at 21-16.

David Hodgson came close to sealing a last gasp try for Hull KR but was tackled by great Wigan defence who put him in touch and meant Wigan held on for the win and and returned to the summit of Super League.

A really tight game from start to finish which was surprising given that Rovers had an extra week off but with no Sam Tomkins in the Wigan it created a balance and my prediction of a 18 point Wigan win was with Tomkins included and had I known of his absence would have gone for a closer win.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Wigan host Hull KR

A Challenge Cup final place at Wembley booked for the 24th, Wigan turn their focus back to the fight for the League Leaders Shield by hosting Hull KR on Friday.

Rovers will be hoping to get revenge on the Warriors for the 84-6 humiliation they suffered in April in the reverse fixture while also hoping for a maiden win in 2013 against Wigan having also been knocked out of the Challenge Cup at MS3 Craven Park back in May by 46-14.

Wigan on the other hand will be looking to complete a treble of victories and in turn return to the Super League summit and as KR are currently sixth in the table, the game will not be an easy one as St Helens can prove having themselves fallen to defeat three times this season including an exit from the Challenge Cup.

Despite Rovers' high placing in the table, Wigan have a packed run-in to the play-offs and as such have rested Pat Richards and Liam Farrell from the 19 along with the injured Dudson while there is a debut in the squad for Joe Burgess and the return of Epalahame Lauaki after a lenghty period on the sidelines. 

Wigan - Joe Burgess, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Harrison Hansen, Jack Hughes, Epalahame Lauaki, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Logan Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, Chris Tuson.

Hull KR - Liam Salter, Jason Netherton, Adam Walker, Sean Gleeson, Evarn Tuimavave, Jordan Cox, Con Mika, Travis Burns, Keal Carlile, Rich Beaumont, Craig Hall, Mickey Paea, David Hodgson, Rhys Lovegrove, Michael Dobson, Lincoln Withers, Greg Eden, Tyla Hepi, Josh Hodgson.

Due to Hull KR having not played since the defeat to Warrington on the 21st July, they will be far fresher than Wigan who have had six days since the Semi Final win over London and as such I am going for a Wigan win but a closer one than usual at Wigan 36 Hull KR 18