St Helens and Stacey’s Mom and Stuff..

Some moments in life are sheer elation. Like when you’re out in town, just beyond that merry drunk and before you get to the spewing-up-in-a-taxi phase and your favourite song comes on.

Or when your favourite sports team has just beaten one of your closest rivals in a first vs second clash to secure top spot in the league. Two weeks running.

After a great run of form, the Saints game was more like being in Level* just after midnight and the DJ spinning the same playlist he’s been churning out for the last decade.

“Is he still playing Stacey’s fucking Mom? It’s 2016!”

But, it’s still early yet and as long as you’re chewing your own ear off in Show Bar* before kicking out time then having a threesome with a curb and a kebab, the night has probably been pretty decent.

Are we still losing narrowly to fucking Saints? It’s 2016!

Yes we are, but it’s still only April and we’re sitting pretty at the top of the league. It’s the results in October that ultimately determine the success of a season.

‘The Easter Period’ – as it’s officially known – is always a crucial time of the season. The games come thick and the risk of injury multiplies tenfold, putting a strain on the depth of your squad and the fitness of your players.

The quick turnaround also provides an opportunity for teams to move up or down the table rather quickly depending on how they do and the fact that we’re now 10 games into the regular season – over a third of the way through – gives a fair indication of how your team is going to do.

By this stage last year, we were already playing catch up with the teams in the top four and left ourselves with too much to do in what was left of the season to make any real impact in the playoffs.

This time around, we sit pretty at the top of the league, despite losing at Hull on Easter Monday and against Sintellins last week.

What’s more, we have faced pretty much everyone who is likely to challenge us for silverware this year and looked pretty good in the process.

Wigan and Widnes looked like our main threats from the way they started the season and the way we disposed of both teams within the space of seven days should fill us with confidence.

They were two very different types of performances.

Going two tries down on Good Friday to the Smellies was never going to the in the game plan, but you get the impression ‘soak up what they’ve go to throw at us in the first 20 minutes and then kill them off when they get tired’ wouldn’t have been far off the general gist of Tony Smith’s instructions.

The Chemics, as always, flew out of the proverbial traps and gave us everything they had in the opening exchanges, taking full advantage of a couple of brain farts in Wire’s defence.

We hit back immediately after their second try and got over for another before the break, which saw two vastly contrasting sets of body language heading for the tunnel. A ten minute burst before the hooter had put in a spring in the step of our boys, while the shite in black and white trudged off the field looking exhausted and broken already.

With Chris Sandow running the show behind a dominant pack, we ran away with it in the second half, wrestling the top spot from the so-called ‘Leicester City of Super League’ whose bubble appears to have well and truly burst now.

After a nice day out in the UK Capital of Culture 2017 was ruined by a narrow defeat at the hands of the other Black and Whites in Super League, our first of the season, we had Wigan effectively beaten inside the first 20 minutes.

Sandow, for a change, was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch and lead the Crust Munchers on a merry dance for the time he was on the field. His pass selection, pace, vision and kicking game in the short time he was on the field was a master class in half back play.

His kick for Penny’s try, in particular, was almost worth the admission price alone.

Unfortunately, he hobbled off the field half way through the first half, but his impact on the game had been made. He had literally ripped Wigan apart. What a waste of money, indeed.

That early lead set the platform for a dominant performance from Wire.

Although Wigan threw everything they had at a potential comeback, we realistically never looked like throwing away the lead and Kurt Gidley and Stefan Ratchford displayed expert game management in the second half, bossing the team around the field and kicking brilliantly to pin the hosts deep in their own half.

It would be naïve to think that this solitary performance means we have the wood over Wigan for the rest of the season. They have made a lot of their injury crisis, yes, but that set play they do where they spread the ball wide behind two lead runners to a pivot worked a bit too easily against us on a number of occasions. When Sam Tomkins is back and hitting that ball instead of Dan Sarginson, it will carry a much bigger threat than it does now and we will need to be able to deal with that when we meet Wigan in important games later in the season.

The fourth ferocious game in the space of 21 days with our main playmaker missing was just a bridge too far for us, even though we actually scored more tries than them on the night.

A lack of the game management we displayed at the Pie Dome the week before and some brain farts cost us dearly.

Individual players cannot spend as much time bickering over an error as Hughes and Lineham did over that fuck up from the drop out.

Shit happens. It’s how you cope with it that counts and the team needs to collectively respond better to this loss than they did to errors last Friday.

Huddersfield are rock bottom of the league and rumours of a rift between Brough and Anderson in recent weeks haven’t done much to raise spirits at the Galpharm, despite the arrival of Boy Wonder Ryan Brierley from Leigh, and they look ripe for a big victory.

We’ve been in this situation before and if there’s one thing we have come to expect from our beloved club it is the unexpected and nobody is going to roll over and just give us two points, least of all a team with the calibre that Huddersfield have when they perform.

A big win in the birthplace of the great Harold Wilson, though, would be the metaphorical greasy fry up the morning after the heavy night before and should set us up well for another big fortnight of derby clashes.

 

*It’s been a while since we’ve been out in town. We’re not entirely sure if these places are still going – we only found out recently that The World had shut down and it came as a bit of a shock. Thank fuck the Mississippi Showboat is still open.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s