Future Man of Steel Ben Currie marked his return to first team action with a try to help Wire at least salvage some pride in this abysmal season with a victory over the old enemy Wigan.
The two teams that contested the Grand Final last year have been proper shite this year.
Fair enough Wigan have done better than us, they’ve reached the semi finals of the cup and are at least going to make the top eight, but they have been nowhere near their own standards, while we all know how bad we’ve been.
A combination of this fact and the continued stupidity of Thursday night Sky games saw what must be the lowest attendance for this fixture for some years with a sub-13,000 crowd.
Seriously, do the clubs and the RFL value the pittance Sky are paying every year so much that they are willing games that should be attracted 20,000+ gates to be played in front of a half empty stadium?
Despite this, both sides played out an intense battle, especially in the second half and for the second week in a row, we showed a bit of ruthlessness and some fucking character in defence.
It wasn’t a pretty game, but it was an intense one and that second half performance was arguably the best we’ve put in all year.
We kept Wigan nil on their own ground for the second forty minutes, while running in eight points ourselves.
Much was said about the signing of Ben Pomeroy, but his combination on the right edge with Peta Hiku has added some real balance and quality to the side and he came up with the match-saving defensive play in the dying seconds.
16-10 up and having just turned the ball over on Wigan’s line, we saw the crust munchers charge downfield and threaten to snatch a draw at the death.
The ball was shifted wide and Joe Burgess must’ve seen his name in lights but the big Australia centre wasn’t having it on his watch and bundled the winger into touch.
It was a tense finish to a tense battle, particularly in the forwards and our pack really stepped up again in the face of Shaun Wane’s tactics and Wigan’s Gripper Stebson clones up front.
Wigan like to dominate the play the ball, in both defence and attack, but fucking hell, don’t they get away with a lot?
Everyone else get penalised for not rolling away at the tackle, but Wigan seem to be allowed to just stay there, once they’ve already laid on at the tackle, of course.
And while Pata Hiku was pulled up for moving off the mark in the first half, Wigan regularly take two or three steps before playing the ball and nothing is said.
We’re never ones to bag referees if we can help it. All we ask for is common sense and consistency and there is not much as annoying as penalties being given for an offence one minute and ignored the next.
During a spell of pressure on Wigan’s line, Child blew up for a penalty because Sims was offside. He was stood to the left of the referee, the dummy half scooted to the referee’s right hand side – nowhere near Sims, who was never getting involved in play.
Later in the game, he shouts at a Wigan player to tell him not to get involved because he’s offside – as the attacker was running straight towards him.
No consistency. It’s atrocious.
It was a bit of a weird first half. We had a lot of the ball, nearly all of it to be honest, but went into half-time with just the two tries to show for it.
Wigan had opened the scoring through a try from Gildart, who pounced on Leuluai’s grubber kick after the New Zealand international ran behind a runner in an NFL-style play.
Alright, he didn’t run into anyone, but the whole purpose of the crossing rule is to stop players crossing each other like that.
Interfernce or not, Wire’s defence – Gidley in particular, meaning everyone outside him had to follow – flew up and in on the Wigan attack, leaving too much room in behind for a half back of Leuluai’s quality not to take advantage of.
Wire responded with a Julien try.
Stef Ratchford capitalised on a quick play the ball from Atkins, jumped out of dummy half on the last tackle and slipped a soft pass to the Frenchman who barged his way over from short range.
We traded a try each again before the break, with Wigan slicing through our static defence from a tap restart and Bateman backing up on the inside before Ryan Atkins was on hand to collect Lineham’s knock down to cross just before the hooter to reduce the deficit to two points.
Wigan’s defence held firm despite our superior possession and field position – they slide up and out where most other teams jam in and, as such, don’t give much away on the edges.
As has often been the case this year, we lacked any real imagination to unlock their defence, but we were a constant threat when we looked to poke through the line from dummy half and a bit of off-the-cuff rugby.
It appeared our best chance to create anything would come from kicks and it was so just before the hour mark when the new Hanley marked his welcome return from injury by touching down Patton’s pinpoint grubber to give us the lead for the first time in the game.
We would never look back, despite all of Wigan’s huff and puff.
A penalty goal from Ratchford extended the lead to four points and another goal three minutes from time killed the game off after a typical bit of Shithousing from Bateman turned a Wigan scrum into a Wire penalty.
We hope Hiku gave him a little wink after the game. Cheers for that, John, you wobbly-headed-would-struggle-to-get-a-job-at-a-scrap-yard-looking scrote.
Wigan’s kick off didn’t go ten metres and although we fucked up on their line, Pomeroy’s last ditch tackle down the other end prevented a repeat of the magic weekend.
We. Are. Staying. Up.