Opponents: Warrington Wolves
Venue: St James Park, Newcastle
A Look at the Opposition
Warrington currently languish in 9th place in the Super League table but have hit some form of late, picking up five victories this season including the very impressive comeback victory against St Helens on the 5th May. Last weekend, they were given a scare by the depleted Widnes Vikings side in the Challenge Cup only for a Kevin Brown hat trick to see them over the line.
They have recently been missing Daryl Clarke and Brad Dwyer in the hooking role with Kurt Gidley being deployed in that role. He seems to get regular assistance from Matty Russell and Stefan Ratchford from dummy half to speed the play the ball up. One area which Warrington do look to dominate a side on is their quick play the balls and often runs straight from dummy half, you can normally rely on Clarke, Dwyer, Russell and Ratchford to contribute to that element of the game during any given match. This has probably been their biggest area of weakness in 2017, sides had worked them out and they struggled to utilise a Plan B. Crucially, Clarke and Dwyer return to the squad to face Wigan this weekend. Over the past few weeks, the re-emergence of Declan Patton and Harvey Livett have been pivotal in the Wolves surge in form. Unfortunately for Livett, he picked up a hamstring injury during the warmup for the Widnes game and will miss the game against Wigan. Ashton Sims, will also miss the game after pleading guilty to stamping on Patrick Ah Van in their last game, resulting in a one match ban.
Over the past few weeks, the re-emergence of Declan Patton and Harvey Livett have been pivotal in the Wolves surge in form. Unfortunately for Livett, he picked up a hamstring injury during the warmup for the Widnes game and will miss the game against Wigan. Ashton Sims, will also miss the game after pleading guilty to stamping on Patrick Ah Van in their last game, resulting in a one match ban.
Warrington’s performance against Brisbane at the start of the season, is still the most complete performance I have seen from a side this season and that ability is still there. The likes of Brown, Gidley and Ratchford have the potential to trouble Wigan and should trouble the young Wigan side. However, I just wonder how much belief this Warrington side actually has at the moment and whether their priority not lies in the Challenge Cup. A victory for the Wolves, could see them move into the Top 8 for the first time this season.
Wigan’s 19 Man Squad:
Warrington’s 19 Man Squad:
Thoughts on the Game
I have said in my blog before that Wigan target certain games in the year as their big games and Magic Weekend has been one of those games. Unbeaten in the last eight Magic Weekend’s, you should expect Wigan to turn it on again on Saturday night. Despite the injuries that Wigan still have, I view this game as a similar one to Good Friday in that Wigan will find a way to win. The return of O’Loughlin and Williams will add a bit more class to Wigan and a much needed fluidity in attack. The Williams / Burgess axis is normally worth at least 6 points in a game and having them back together will be a big plus for Wigan.
I am expecting a close first 40 minutes but for Wigan to pull away from Warrington in the second half with the likes of Marshall, Davies and Burgess shining on the big stage and the big St James Park pitch.
Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Saturday would be:
From the squad announced, I would expect Callum Field, who debuted against Swinton to miss out, along with Jack Wells.
The Wigan Rugby Blog predicts:
Score: Wigan 28 – 10 Warrington
First Try Scorer: Joe Burgess
Last Time Around:
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