Opponents: Swinton Lions
Venue: Haywood Road, Sale
A Look at the Opposition
Take a look at the Championship table and you will see Swinton in 10th place, two places above Bradford who lie bottom on -2 points. A walkover then ?! No, absolutely not, this Swinton side is to be underestimated at your peril.
Recent victories against Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup and Tolouse in the league suggest that Wigan will face a tough test on Sunday afternoon. Granted, Swinton benefitted from the likes of Josh Woods and Caine Barnes (on dual reg from Wigan) in their last game against Huddersfield . But it was their permanent players, like Luke Waterworth that were insturmental in their two scalps of the Giants and Toulouse.
In my 18th man column, I alluded to the fact that Luke Waterworth, released by Wigan last year, could be crucial to Swinton’s chances on Sunday and that he is a Super League player, playing at Championship level. The fact that Wigan have invited Waterworth to play for their reserves this year after being unable to confirm a first team place for him this year perhaps suggests Shaun Wanes admiratIon for him. The player that perfhaps influenced the decision to allow Waterworth to leave is likely to be his opposite number at some point on Sunday, the ever improving, Josh Ganson. Anyone that regularly reads this blog will know that I cant speak highly enough of Ganson and his potential, boarding on Ganson-biased. However, if there was ever a game for Josh Ganson to prove his worth to Wigan in his infant career to date, it would be on Sunday against the player he has effectively replaced in the first team picture.
A decent looking squad from Swinton that includes plenty of former Wigan players, eager to prove a point, including Jack Murphy (infamous for that playoff game against Leeds at the DW – the poor lad), Rhodri Lloyd, Rob Lever, Ben Austin and Liam Carberry.
The Swinton Lions 19 Man Squad
Wigan add George Williams, Michael McIlorum, Callum Field and squad number 40, Oliver Partington to their squad. They replace, Sam Powell, Joe Bretherton, Josh Woods and Gabe Fell in the squad from the Salford squad,
Thoughts on the Game
Being the Super League Champions against the current placed, 10th Championship side – this should be a one way score line. However, the injuries that Wigan have are likely to play a factor and the Wigan/Swinton relationship in terms of dual reg/former players/fomer coaches is likely to play a role.
The return of George Williams for me, wipes out any doubt that there will be an upset, however I don’t expect a blow out score for Wigan. Swinton, have too much class for that. I would expect a close game in the first half, with perhaps Wigan’s fitness and class proving too much in the second half. A quarter final place is at stake in a completion that Wigan last won in 2013, a competition that Shaun Wane and co are eager to add to the Super League and World Club Challenge trophies.
Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Friday would be:
From the side announced, I would expect Field and Partington to miss out allowing Wells to gain more experience covering the second row/centre positions from the bench. Wane will be encouraged by Josh Ganson’s 80 minute stint against Salford to give him as many minutes as McIlorum’s fitness permits that he needs.
The Wigan Rugby Blog predicts:
Score: Swinton 10 – 38 Wigan
First Try Scorer: Tierney
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