By Phil Wilkinson – see full article online at Wigan Today by clicking here
Since Wigan beat Australian champions Cronulla by 22-6, every Super League game has been settled by a margin of eight points or less. I wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘enjoy it while it lasts’, but there are a few sides who may struggle to maintain their form once injuries begin to bite into their thin squads.
Still, we all want competitive matches which go to the wire, or as close to it as you can get, and we should be encouraged by the start to the season. Last weekend, there was something to take from most games. Exciting finishes, good tries – Wakefield’s Ben Jones-Bishop scored a belter against Huddersfield – and surprise wins. And this week, while Rangi Chase will miss out through suspension from his club – and who predicted that would happen? – we welcome another talented overseas halfback back to the competition, with Salford’s Todd Carney in the line to face Warrington. Fuifui Moimoi in the Siddal dressing-room after their Challenge Cup tie I was quite impressed with Carney when he played at Catalans, but he just didn’t seem to play enough, and hopefully he can add more flair to a competition which, by and large, has made a strong start.
And tomorrow’s derby between Wigan and Leigh promises to be a great tussle. Leigh have certainly enjoyed their wins against their borough rivals in pre-season friendlies in recent years, and there is no doubt they will be revved up for this one. I can’t wait to see Gareth Hock back at the DW. It’s great to have another derby on the calendar.
It was 2005 the last time Wigan hosted Leigh in a Super League game. The players didn’t let Wigan down. Shaun Wane didn’t let Wigan down. Why should they be punished? That March day, the Warriors ran away with a 62-6 triumph with current rugby director Kris Radlinski bagging a hat-trick. The year soon turned sour for Wigan – 75-0, anyone? – but back in March, few could have foreseen the troubles which would soon follow. Indeed, a week after beating Leigh, they toppled St Helens on Good Friday, with a starting backrow in both games comprised of Harrison Hansen, Danny Tickle and Sean O’Loughlin – who should all be on duty again in tomorrow’s derby! I’ve already shared my thoughts on the farcical stadium switch.
I’m not going to repeat myself. But just to take on a couple of points which have been made, by some fans and on discussion shows. The RFL is investigating Wigan for breaking operation rules – by initially postponing the game, when they didn’t have the powers to do so. There’s no precedent for what punishment should be dished out, so it will be interesting to see what happens next. Some are suggesting Wigan should be docked points – perhaps the two they won in the reversed game at Widnes.