MATCH REPORT: Wigan 16 – 16 Huddersfield

Wigan Warriors – 16

Tries: Escare, Davies, Gelling

Goals: Escare 2/4

Huddersfield Giants – 16

Tries: McGillvary, McIntosh

Goals: Brough 4/5

Attendance: 12,704

A frustrating game which ended with Wigan moving to the top of the Super League table due to Castleford’s defeat at Salford. A slow game made it difficult for Wigan to get any momentum or dominance during the game, along with the loss of O’Loughlin and Wells in the 8th minute due to injury – perhaps avoiding defeat is the best result.

The game started with a wide O’Loughlin pass being intercepted by Jermaine McGillvary who ran 80m with ball in hand, only to be stopped, inches from the line by a brilliant covering tackle from Anthony Gelling. After his hard work getting back, Lee Gaskell scored a soft try from dummy half, diving over the line from the play the ball – a real sickener for Gelling after the work he had put in to get back to tackle McGillvary.

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Soon after the Gaskell try, O’Loughlin with an apparent calf strain and Wells with an ankle injury, left the field – not to return, leaving Wigan with two interchange options for the best part of 70 minutes.

After a missed penalty goal attempt from Danny Brough, Wigan levelled the game thanks to a great set move in which Tomkins flicked the ball back on his inside to the supporting Escare, who converted his own try to make it 6-6.

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Huddersfield retook the lead through McIntosh who was on the end of a Gaskell pass on the last tackle. A poor defensive effort from Wigan on the last tackle, they looked too pre-occupied with Brough and ignored the running option, which Huddersfield took full advantage of. Brough added the extras to make it 6-12.

Tom Davies, on his debut, scored a great try in the corner, with a diving effort to bring Wigan back to 10-12. Another good assist from Joel Tomkins who looked to grow into the match after switching to loose forward to cover for Sean O’Loughlin. Escare missed the conversion attempt. Just before the halftime interval, Huddersfield were then awarded a penalty in which Brough took the shot at goal and made it 10-14 at the halftime break.

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The second half saw just the one try, Anthony Gelling scoring after a great run and very poor defence from Danny Brough (14-14). This looked like it would spark Wigan into motoring on and building up a lead, however handling errors and a slow ruck prevented this from ever happening. The penalty count continued to rise, mainly due to perceived infringements around the play the ball. Huddersfield were then awarded another penalty in kicking distance of the posts, in which Brough added the two points and took the score to 14-16.

Wigan continued to build pressure but they were unable to capitalise on it, Kruise Leeming was sin-binned for a high shot on Tom Davies and Wigan were presented with a great opportunity to get themselves in front for the first time in the game. However, sloppy attacking play matched with some good defence from the Giants ensured Wigan had to settle for a two-pointer from Escare to level the scores at 16-16 whilst Leeming was off the pitch. The final few minutes revolved around trying to set up drop goal opportunities, Sam Powell having a go for Wigan put pushing it wide and Brough missing for the Giants – due to good defensive press.

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A point dropped for Wigan at home but due to the Castelford result, a point that moves them to the top of the table and ensures they are the only unbeaten side in Super League. There will be concerns over the injury to O’Loughlin ahead of the next game, against third place Hull FC at the DW Stadium. Perhaps Gildart may be back for that game to add some strength to an already depleting squad.

We tipped Escare for first try scorer in our preview and he was the first try scorer – unfortunately the Gaskell try stopped the Escare try being a bet winner!

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