Opponents: Castleford Tigers
Venue: Wheldon Road/ The Jungle/ Mend-a-House Jungle (Whatever its called now!)
A look at the Opposition
It’s less than a month since we played Castleford last, an underwhelming 27-10 defeat capped a period of four games in a row without a win. However, since that game, Castleford have lost twice (St Helens and Hull FC) whereas, Wigan are unbeaten.
Has the Castleford bubble burst? No, I don’t think it has, however I think what we are finding is that teams are now asking questions of Castleford and the biggest question for Cas at the moment is, what is their plan B? If the free flowing rugby that stems from Gale, Roberts, Chase and Hardaker fails, do they have enough about them to win the nitty gritty games that ultimately win you the games at the end of the season, when it matters.
Their defeat last week against the 12 men of Hull was probably an example of the lack of plan B. The tackle which saw Hull down to 12 men also resulted in Luke Gale getting injured and was unable to return in that game. They seemingly failed to adapt to losing their number seven whereas, in the same round, Wigan lost their number seven, Thomas Leuluai and went on to win against Catalans comfortable (they arguably played better when Leuluai left the field!).
Luke Gale has been named in the Castleford 19 man squad but must pass the concussion test on Friday before he can be cleared to face Wigan on Saturday. On the news, Darryl Powell said to www.castigers.com “Luke Gale should be okay, he’s trained light today and he’s got to go through the head injury protocol, which is significant in itself. He can’t take his test until Friday so we won’t know until then for sure if he’ll be available to play. Rangi Chase has trained in that position today and he’ll be available for the weekend. We’ll have to wait until the end of the week for that but we have come through Easter unscathed apart from that. We haven’t points wise but we have to kick on now and get back to our best form.”
Powell is expecting a tough game against the inform Warriors: “They are in better form than when we played them earlier in the season, they’re currently on a three-match streak. They’ve had a good Easter. They beat Catalans pretty comfortable last week and they’re going well. They are a physical side and you know you’re in for a tough game when you face up against them because they come after you. You’ve got to take your chances when you can because they don’t concede a whole heap of points. We’ve just got to be on our game on the night. We’ve only our three games by a total of 7 points so even when we aren’t playing well we aren’t too far away so there is no panicking about what we have here it’s just a case of tidying up the areas that we have not been as proficient in.”
Last Time Around
The Castleford Tigers 19 Man Squad:
- Rangi Chase
18. Matt Cook
5. Greg Eden
7. Luke Gale
1. Zak Hardaker
11. Oliver Holmes
14. Nathan Massey
9. Paul McShane
12. Mike McMeeken
10. Grant Millington
2. Greg Minikin
13. Adam Milner
21. Joel Monaghan
17. Junior Moors
16. Ben Roberts
15. Jesse Sene-Lefao
19. Gadwin Springer
4. Michael Shenton
3. Jake Webster
Wigan 19 Man Squad:
Wigan replaced the injured Thomas Leuluai in the squad with the very talented, under 19’s hooker, Thomas Leuluai. Whilst Joel Tomkins and Anthony Gelling return to the squad in place of Joe Bretherton and Liam Forsyth.
Thoughts on the Game
Even though Wigan have lost another player to injury in the form of Thomas Leuluai which will result in a decent reshuffle of the spine of the side – I expect Wigan to be much closer to Castleford in Round 12, than they were in their in their meeting. Whether Wigan can win, I think so. The rugby that they have been playing has been progressively getting better and with key players returning and establishing themselves back in the side such as McIlorum, Farrell and O’Loughlin, there is certainly the opportunity for Wigan to win.
Whether Luke Gale plays could have an effect on the outcome of the game however, the ability to replace Gale with Rangi Chase probably adds a factor of the unknown into the equation for Wigan to prepare for. I do actually think Wigan will win on Saturday night in a what I expect to be a very tight game – I think we will see a bit of Williams magic to influence the game in Wigan’s favour.
Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Saturday would be:
With Josh Ganson and Nick Gregson missing out. I would expect Sam Powell to do the full 80 mins with him moving into the halves with O’Loughlin and McIlorum being spelled on the bench.
The Wigan Rugby Blog predicts:
Score: Castleford 12 – 16 Wigan
First Try Scorer: George Williams