Hello. It’s poor form not to keep your blog up to date, but sometimes you get a bit busy. We’re sorry about that.
What’s that? You didn’t miss us anyway? You didn’t even notice?
Oh right. Bollocks to ya then. Ungrateful cow.
After disposing of Dewsbury in the professional manner that we did, we then faced another club with a fair chance of featuring in the middle eight playoff thing when we travelled to Eccles to face the Trafford Centre Reds.
A Gene Ormsby hat-trick – in particular, his acrobatic third try in the corner – was the highlight of a 34-18 victory over the Devils.
Brad Dwyer got himself on the scoresheet again, coming off the bench with his blond hair and darting runs from dummy half like a Rob Burrow tribute act. It’s ridiculously early in his career, but it’s hard not to make comparisons between the two and, with Higham now officially a Leigh player, it is time for young Dwyer to take the proverbial baton and run with it.
We then travelled to another football city with little rugby league heritage, Newcastle. Although Gateshead (now rebranded as Newcastle) Thunder had a season in Super League, the merger with Hull all but killed the club and, a Championship Play off appearance aside, they have languished in the lower leagues of the professional game ever since the turn of the millennium.
We know what we’re getting from Magic weekend now. Loads of people who don’t normally go the games – or contribute to the vocal support when they do – suddenly turn into Acid House-style ravers and the concourses and stands of whatever stadium we’re in resemble a Happy Mondays concert more than a rugby game.
Then we return to reality the week after at the soulless shell that is the HJ and its morgue-like atmosphere.
After an impressive beginning – and two well worked tries – we threw the game away after half-time and lost at Magic Weekend for the first time since 2011.
Tony Smith said we were ‘rubbish’ in the second half in his post-match interview. He wasn’t wrong, but this time last year, Paul Wellens appeared suicidal when he spoke to the sky cameras after we bummed them at the Etihad again. He was a bit happier in October, though, and if we were given the choice between being happier after Magic weekend or after the Grand Final, we know what we’d chose.
Silly errors and a lack of game management cost us victory against Saints, which was at least an improvement on the appalling performance at Langtree Park earlier in the season when we were simply second best in every department. It could’ve been a totally different story, however, had *that* Gene Ormsby effort been allowed late on.
And so on to Catalans, the first home game since the nail biter against Hull. The Dragons came into the game having drawn at Magic with Scott Dureau missing a simple kick that would have won them the game.
They came into the game with a few injuries, notably Todd Carney and Thomas Bosc, meaning that the absolutely unheard of Stanislas Robin started at 6.
The game got off to the worst possible start when the returning Gareth O’Brien booted the ball out on the full from the kick off.
Catalans couldn’t capitalise, though, and Dureau himself kicked the ball out on the full when they got to the last tackle.
The visitors crossed five minutes later when Whitehead knocked the ball out of Stefan Ratchford’s hand on a kick return to allow Tony Gigot to touch down for a simple score. It looked like a knock on from Whitehead to anyone with any sense, but the video referee awarded the try.
The opening 15 minutes were scrappy, with both teams throwing wild offloads and losing the ball. Mainly us, to be honest, but Catalans were guilty of it themselves at times. Most notably when Whitehead swooped for an interception of his own line and released to Dureau, who tried to find Oldfield on the wing but his pass went into touch.
Ben Currie finally replied for Wire after 23 minutes when he collected O’Brien’s pass and strolled through a a massive gap left by Scott Dureau reading the play wrong and being attracted to the lead runner.
We took the lead moments later with a bit of a scrappy try. Daryl Clark ignored Myler on the last tackle and tried to put a grubber into the in-goal area. The ball ricocheted back to the hands of Mr Skelton, whose long pass found Atkins who had enough strength to beat a couple of defenders and barge over.
After a poor opening, we were pretty much in control of the match by now. Catalans were rarely getting out of their own half by then of sets, while were finding good position and getting a kick away in their half, while Daz Clark was making the odd break from dummy half on the back of quick play the balls.
For all of our dominance, though, we only went into the break with a six point lead.
Catalans struck first after the break when Eloi Pellissier threw an outrageous dummy from acting half to fool George King at marker and dive over for ridiculously easy looking try.
They took the lead minutes later when Elliot Whitehead touched down from close despite attention from Clark, Atkins and Ormsby and all the pressure and dominance we built in the first half seemed to count for nothing.
We then had a lucky escape when Morgan Escare hit Dureau’s (mile forward) inside ball and darted downfield, only for the full back to pass to no one when Ratchford closed him down.
Wire seemed to pick it up a gear after that and romped down field before a back line spread created a big overlap for Atkins to finish.
Man of Steel candidate Chris Hill then burst through the defence 20 yards out and raced home for a rare try from the next set, capitalising on field position gifted to us by a penalty for Ian Henderson pissing about at the play ball as usual.
Brad Dwyer’s introduction of the bench sparked a bit of life into us and his energy and enthusiasm at least were infectious. He’s never put a foot wrong in a Wire shirt and can only get better with more game time.
Another young player who always impresses, Ben Currie, was next to cross when the brilliant Stefan Ratchford Baby collected a Dureau kick and raced downfield before releasing the young back rower to romp home on the wing like a pale Kevin Penny.
It was a scrappy game, but it was bruising in parts and a win is a win. We can take positives from the attitude shown in defence to prevent what looked like certain scores and the willingness to grind out a victory. In the recent past, we have been criticised for not being able to do exactly that. Winning ugly and winning when you’re not playing at your best, we are always told, is a sign of a champion side. We fucking hope it is.