Sunday, 15 February 2015

Warriors Comeback To Stun Giants

After being held to a draw in at Widnes in round one, Wigan began their home campaign with the traditional visit of Huddersfield who have revelled in spoiling the joy of the opening game at the DW Stadium in recent years.

Wigan suffered a blow ahead of kick-off which led to a delay in proceedings as George Williams left the warm-up in pain and had to be swiftly replaced in the starting 13 by Ryan Hampshire who alongside Sam Powell started in a very young halfback partnership.

The delay seemed to affect Wigan who kicked out on the full from the opening kick-off but luckily were strong enough in defence to prevent Huddersfield from an early score. However, the Giants did open the scoring in the seventh minute with a battling drive that saw Anthony Mullally cross the Wigan line with Danny Brough sweeping over the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

Wigan should have opened their account in the 12th minute when a clever flurry of passes allowed Anthony Gelling to find space but his rapid offload found touch rather then the supporting Josh Charnley on the wing. The Warriors did open their account just six minutes later as a heavy hit on Matty Bowen resulted in a penalty which saw a quick passing move to the left find Joel Tomkins who crossed for the try but sadly Sam Powell was unable to convert from a tough angle at 6-4.

Another rapid passing move in the 24th minute saw Wigan take the lead but via a review after John Bateman had latched on to Sam Powell's pass to cross under the sticks which gave Ryan Hampshire an easy conversion which he kicked successfully for 10-6.

The lead lasted barely a few minutes as a Liam Farrell fumble from the restart gave Huddersfield possession in a dangerous position which they utilised superbly with Jamie Ellis crossing after a clever run from Wigan loanee Jack Hughes. Danny Brough converted to give the Giants a 12-10 lead.

The Giants thought they had extended their lead in the 31st minute when a grubber kick from Brough saw Jake Connor collect the ball and touchdown for a try but after a review, the effort was chalked off but it served as a warning for Wigan and one they failed to heed just six minutes later.

Jake Connor clipped forward a grubber kick and with Josh Charnley caught infield, Aaron Murphy was wide open to cross for a try in the corner but the tough angle meant Brough's perfect record with the boot ended with the score at 16-10, a lead that lasted into the half-time interval.

A cagey start to the second half from both sides saw both sides make mistakes with Huddersfield's forward pass in the 49th minute proving costly as from the resulting scrum, Wigan reduced the deficit with a flurry of passes allowing Joel Tomkins to score his second try of the evening which went unconverted after Ryan Hampshire's close attempt at 16-14.

Just before the hour mark, a notable piece of history was written as for a few seconds at least, Wigan had the Farrell and Tomkins brothers both on the field as Connor Farrell entered the fray in place of Sean O'Loughlin but just seconds later, Logan Tomkins departed for Michael McIlorum.

One topic of discussion in the opening round was the flurry of sin-bins and the count threatened to rise in the 62nd minute as tempers flared between the two sides which resulted in Craig Huby and Ryan Sutton being sent to the sin-bin for punching. The reshuffling for the sides seemed to benefit Wigan as they took the lead with 11 minutes remaining with a superb run from John Bateman saw him offload to Michael McIlorum who capped off the move with a try but a miss from the conversion attempt set up a two point game at 18-16.

Both sides were back to their full compliment of 13 with just seven minutes left and the spell on the sidelines seemed to help Ryan Sutton as he latched on to a rapid passing move to cross for his first senior try and gave Ryan Hampshire an easy conversion to put Wigan ahead at 24-16.

Huddersfield looked to respond instantly but a short restart proved to be too short and gave Wigan the chance to extend their lead and they came achingly close in the final seconds with a dangerous grubber kick caught by Joel Tomkins in goal but his momentum denied him a hat-trick as he fumbled but it mattered little at the hooter as Wigan celebrated a hard-fought victory.