Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Warriors Face Wolves

Thursday Night Rugby returns with the long-awaited rematch of the 2013 Grand Final as Warrington host fierce rivals Wigan with the Warriors looking for a first Super League win over the Wolves since 2010.

However, Wigan have had the better of Warrington in the knockout ties most notably in October's Grand Final when they came back 6-16 behind at halftime to win 30-16 with a stunning fightback. Despite this week's game being billed as a rematch of that famous night, there is a mixed feeling among both the fans and players as both sides have made numerous changes since October.

Wigan have since lost the services of the mercurial Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards as well as Harrison Hansen, Lee Mossop, Chris Tuson with all bar the latter played in October while Warrington have had a similar exodus with their talismanic trio of Brett Hodgson, Lee Briers and Adrian Morley all leaving with the latter moving to nearby Salford while Garreth Carvell also moved on.

The fact that 9/34 of those who played in the final have left may not mean much but their exits have certainly been felt as shockingly the two sides have a combined total of five wins while at the top of the League both St Helens and Castleford have that each showing that really it cannot be classed as a true rematch.

The issue of a rematch aside, Wire v Wigan is second in my mind only to the derby with Saints as Warringtons recent rise to the top has spiced up the rivalry between the two with last season's trio of games certainly showing that, the DW meeting saw Warrington claim a late draw with a Briers one-pointer (17-17) and Wigan looked on for a win in the reverse meeting before losing 12-22 late on ending of course by coming out on top in the Grand Final.

Usually Warrington are favourites when the sides meet with Wigan's form against them being terrible but the early season form for both makes it hard to see a stand-out of the two, one major factor that may come into play is Wigan's leader and captain Sean O'Loughlin missing out through injury as without him at times Wigan have been average this year and his leadership can be the difference between a win or loss.

Both sides have named strong squads for the tie and the hopes are that the game will be just as memorable as the last meeting between the two.

Warrington - Roy Asotasi,Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge, Ben Evans, Rhys Evans, Simon Grix, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, James Laithwaite, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Richie Myler, Gareth O’Brien, Gene Ormsby, Stefan Ratchford, Glenn Riley, Matthew Russell, Trent Waterhouse,Ben Westwood

Wigan - Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hughes, James, Pettybourne, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, Tomkins, Williams.

A close game is the likely outcome but I think that finally Wigan will end their barren run and win so I am saying Warrington 22 Wigan 24.