Opponents: Huddersfield Giants
Venue: DW Stadium
A look at the Opposition
Huddersfield come into the game on Sunday sat in 9th position but only two points away from 3rd place. The next few games for Huddersfield will shape their season in terms of whether they are going to be a Super 8’s team or a Middle 8’s team for the second year running.
Their recent form is looking woeful coming into this game, having shipped in 78 points in the past two games and only scoring 8 themselves. Last week’s 30-0 drubbing at Leigh will be a real cause for concern for Rick Stone coming into the Wigan game. A stuttering attack coming up against what has been, a brutal defence from Wigan – doesn’t bode too well for the Giants.
Consistency is their biggest issue at the moment, having won two good games against Wakefield and Widnes, they have looked bereft of confidence since the Wakefield game.
On paper, the Huddersfield side is a Super 8’s side and should be a team that competes for a top 4 place. Any team that contains, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Brough, Brierley, Rapira, Ikahihifo and Hinchcliffe is a side that should be competing with the top sides in Super League.
The Giants need a catalyst in this game to have a chance otherwise, I would expect Wigan to run up a big score on them. That catalyst could be Danny Brough, the man who has provided important performances for them countless times when required.
Rick Stone provided an update on his expected team in his weekly press conference:
“We had Leroy, Jerry, Murphy and Lee Gaskell come back and they all came through okay and will be a bit better for it and a bit more confidence around their injury and realise they are pretty comfortable and they will be a lot closer to full fitness this week.
“I think Ollie [Roberts] will be okay after taking a knock, the protocol it is six days and he is moving on pretty well without any symptoms at the moment. He’ll train without contact today and we expect him to take his place.”
“Dale Ferguson might have a chance this week, we still have no Tom Symonds or Michael Lawrence but we will check Fergie later in the week and see if he has a chance of playing but if not we will go with something similar to last week I’d say.
“Jake [Mamo] is probably going to take the full month of March, he started some light running at the start of this month and he has probably got another two weeks I’d suggest.”
Wigan looked to come through the Warrington game unscathed and with a 10-day turnaround with Gildart, Bateman, Sutton, Tierney, Burgess, Tomkins, McIllorum and Manfredi all remain long-term absentees from the Warriors squad.
Shaun Wane added in his press conference that Tom Davies is in the frame for a first team debut this week after being named in the 19 man squad for the Warrington game. Davies played and scored for the reserves in their 40-10 victory over Warrington on Sunday. I assume Tom Davies will be vying for a place on the wing with Liam “Brucie” Forsyth who made his debut against Warrington last Thursday. Joe Bretherton, who has been in the last two 19 man squads will also be in contention again this week, having also played for the reserves against Warrington last weekend.
Wane has announced the same 19 man squad for a second week in a row, we would expect the same team as last week, with maybe Davies replacing Forsyth on the wing. However, our tip on the lineup, would be the same as last week.
Thoughts on the Game
Last weeks tip of Nuuausala for first try scorer – well that was terrible. I will try to offer a slightly better prediction this week! I don’t think anybody expected a 22 point victory against Warrington last week, particularly with the injury absences – so an 8 point winning margin prediction wasn’t too bad!
This Sunday is being marketed as a Family Fun Sunday – a rare Wigan Super League game at home on a Sunday – let’s make the most if it. I expect this to be a fun day for Wigan on the field also, I just can’t see Huddersfield having enough quality or confidence to be able to match Wigan. The axis of Powell/O’Loughlin/Leuluai/Williams/Escare is performing incredibly well at the moment and I expect them to have too much in attack and defence for the Giants.
I mentioned Huddersfield needing a catalyst to get this game competitive, they need to get Wigan into an arm-wrestle and perhaps make the game nasty and niggly. Huddersfield do have the quality in the form of Danny Brough, if their forwards can give him a platform to perform, he currently leads the leader board for stats for try assists in the Super League with 8 out Huddersfield’s 17 tries this season coming as a direct result of his influence. Sebastine Ikahihifo is probably the one Huddersfield player that has impressed me so far this season, he took an EGP this week to ensure he is available for the Wigan game. He has made 33 tackle busts so far this season and leads the stats in the Super League for that, this is normally a stat that is dominated by full backs or wingers – the next forward on the list is Andre Savellio with 14. That puts into perspective how well he has played in his first five games of 2017 and he could be a handful for Wigan on Sunday.
I expect Wigan to win on Sunday but also expect a better performance from the Giants after their pointless night at Leigh last time out.
The Wigan Rugby Blog predicts:
Score: Wigan 32 – 10 Huddersfield
First Try Scorer: Escare