Wigan and that.

Oh, fuck off.

In all honesty, it was probably a bit of a classic. A cracking advert for the game. A great game for the neutral. Pick your cliché.

But, as far as we’re concerned, the best way we can sum up Thursday’s events at the Dave Whelen Dome is, simply, just fuck off.

From Wire throwing away a 10-0 lead to Sky’s insistence on broadcasting matches on Thursday nights to the obvious announcement at half-time of Sam Tomkins’ obvious return to Wigan to Ben Flower and his heroes welcome: Just. Fuck. Off.

Wire went into the game unchanged from the week before – it would’ve been harsh to make changes to a side that won 80-0 really – and we started off very confidently indeed. 
When Joel Monaghan starts on the wing, he is pretty much a licence to print money for a first try scorer bet and anyone who had backed him with SkyBet’s generous 10/1 boost would’ve been excited early on when the skipper out jumped Sydney-Bound Joe Burgess in his trademark style to collect a high kick to the corner.

He was stopped short of the line that time, but it was just delaying the inevitable and he crossed just minutes later when Stefan Ratchford found him with a beautiful cut-out ball. It was the final pass of a neat backline spread that saw Patten and Myler combine to find Ratchford with space and time to pick the right pass. And what a beaut of a pass it was, right at the line, with the defenders commited, Ratch found Monas on the outside of Burgess to dive in from close range.

The lead was extended moments later from similar field position, Myler taking the ball from first receiver and this time missing out Ratchford to find Bridge who beat two defenders to crash over.
Ratchford, having knocked over the goal from the touchline after the first try, missed with an attempt closer to the sticks, but nonetheless, we were continuing the rate of scoring a point per minute from the Wakefield game.

It wouldn’t last, of course, and Wigan pulled a try back minutes later through the vastly over rated Liam ‘not missed a tackle since Under 9s’ Farrell. A little half break from Hampshire near the half way line had our defence retreating and when Matty Smith took the line on from the play ball, our line looked staggered and vulnerable. Myler, presumably predicting a pass from Williams, jumped out of the line just enough to allow the Wigan stand off to drop his shoulder, dance passed Bridge and saunter through the gap Mr Skelton had left. He slipped a pass to Joe Burgess, who found the supporting Farrell back on the inside to touch down.

Ryan Hampshire made it back to back tries soon after when he supported a Joe Burgess break from deep inside his own half and collected the winger’s pass for what was a simple score in the end.

Chris Bridge continued the trend of both teams scoring on the one side of the field with another display of strength to beat the defence and crash over from short range.

Ratchford again missed the kick and Wigan, having converted both their tries, took the lead just before the break when Dom Manfredi finished off a flowing piece of off-the-cuff rugby that saw the ball shifted from left-to-right and included a couple of great offloads from Gelling and Tomkins. The latter’s one-handed released just before he hit the floor was the decisive pass in the play and gave the winger the space to score the first try of his hat trick.

The half-time hooter was followed by what sounding like an air raid siren and the crowd’s attention was drawn to the big screen for the world exclusive breaking news that Sam Tomkins’ loan spell at NZ Warriors was coming to an end at the end of the season and he would be a Wigan player again next year. The Warrington fans, fewer in number than at any time in history for Wigan away, greeted the announcement with a rousing ovation and a round of respectful applause.

It definitely felt like a big two-fingered gesture to be going to such Ryanair-landing-on-time-style fanfare at half-time against Warrington specifically. As one Wigan fan tweeted, ‘to announce it at half-time against Warrington just makes it extra special!!!’

When the second half finally got underway, it was Warrington who got the scoreboard working again after just three minutes when Ben Currie burst onto a neat short ball from Patten to romp home untouched, having shown soon-to-be-ex-Wigan full back Hampshire a clean pair of heels on his way to the try line.

It was the last time we would trouble the score boad all night, though, and three Wigan tries sent the already excitable crowd home doubly happy.

First Anthony Gelling, who two years ago looked like he’d never played rugby before in his life but has developed into a pretty decent centre, stormed onto a short ball close to the line to run in through the incredibly young left-edge defence.

It was that same side that would concede the next two tries, too, as Wigan exploited Wire’s inexperience down that flank. A sweeping back line spread saw the ball shifted through hands for Gelling to unleash Manfredi for his second try.

He completed his hat-trick – and the scoring – after Smith’s drop goal attempt was charged down and the ball found its way to Gelling who toe-poked it to his winger, who in turn brushed past two defenders to cross for the points.

It was a better performance than we’ve seen in other defeats this season, but a loss is still a loss – and loss at the Pie Dome is never easy to take. A trip to Headingley up next and we remain the only team to have beaten Leeds this year – for good reason, too; they looked shit hot against Saints.

It’d be just like the Wire to go and do them in their own back yard when it’s least expected, though.


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