Opponents: Castleford Tigers
Venue: Mend-A-Hose Jungle, Castleford
A look at the Opposition
The runaway league leaders in 2017 were brought back down to earth in their opening game of the 2018 season, with a 46-6 defeat at St Helens. Since then, a battling 13-12 win against Widnes followed by victories against Hull FC and Salford ensures that Cas are starting to find their form again.Embed from Getty Images
Cas have welcomed back Jamie Ellis in 2018, with Ben Roberts swapping from the halves to fullback in the absence of sacked, Zak Hardaker. The attacking fluidity of 2017 hasn’t quite returned to the Castleford ranks as of yet, a more workmanlike style has proceeded in 2018 but they boast the same record as Wigan, heading into Round 5 of the season.Embed from Getty Images
Castleford this week announced the transfer of Liam Watts from Hull FC, a big signing for the club and an exceptional talent. Watts is banned for the visit of Wigan this weekend but if Watts can get his discipline issues sorted (four red cards since the start of the 2017 season) then he could be a massive asset to the Tigers.
Despite being tipped for a return to the squad, Joel Tomkins misses out on the 19 man squad for a second week in a row. There is still no return for Dan Sarginson either. Craig Mullen and Callum Field replace Gabe Hamlin and Liam Marshall in the 19 man squad, perhaps owing to the fact that the reserves are playing on Friday.Embed from Getty Images
Castleford are missing Oliver Holmes through suspension with Gadwin Springer being named in the 19 man squad as his replacement.
Powell makes just one change to his squad who claimed a 22-8 win over Salford Red Devils last weekend. Oliver Holmes will sit this one out, serving a one match suspension, making way for Gadwin Springer who could make his first appearance for the Tigers this season.
Speaking today Powell said: “Wigan have some renewed vigour this year, they will have been disappointed with what happened to them last year. They set themselves high standards and they will be coming after us on Sunday,”
“We are mindful that we need to step up now as we enter our next set of games. The boys have trained well this week, we have an edge about us and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead of us on Sunday.”
Luke Gale is looking forward to what is always an intense game against the Warriors: “Wigan are a good aggressive side and they are playing well at the moment. It’s always a good clash against Wigan and I’m sure it will be a great game on Sunday.”
Castleford Tigers v Wigan Warriors – Castleford 19 man squad
26 James Clare
18 Matt Cook
6 Jamie Ellis
17 Alex Foster
7 Luke Gale
22 James Green
14 Nathan Massey
12 Mike McMeeken
9 Paul McShane
10 Grant Millington
13 Adam Milner
2 Greg Minikin
8 Junior Moors
1 Ben Roberts
15 Jesse Sene-Lefao
4 Michael Shenton
19 Gadwin Springer
21 Jake Trueman
3 Jake Webster
Thoughts on the Game
Wigan need to produce their first good 80-minute performance of the season on Sunday if they are to beat a Cas side that are yet to reach the form of their lung-busting 2017 campaign. Wigan’s second-half performances so far this season have produced 98 points perhaps owing to their fitness levels or benefiting from the “switcharoo” (the now official term for when Escare enters the field). Either way, Wigan cannot afford to rely on their comeback abilities against a Castleford side that are very good at controlling a game, particularly at home.Embed from Getty Images
Wigan benefitted last week from keeping Sam Tomkins at fullback for the full 80 minutes, rather than asking him to play in the halves when Escare entered the field. The benefit seemed to be that Tomkins was able to continue to attack the left and right, throughout the game, rather than being restricted to the right-hand side during the “switcharoo”.
I think for Wigan to win on Sunday, they need to make the game a forward battle as this seems to be the main area in which Castleford are struggling this season. Castleford at the moment have the worst average gain statistic in Super League, with every carry average a measly 6.18 metres. If Wigan can restrict the width and depth that Castleford are allowed to play with and force them up the middle, Wigan will have a good platform for themselves to attack from .
I am backing Wigan to win the game off the back of the hard work from Flower, Clubb, Tautai, Sutton and Navarrette – a forward line that I don’t think Castleford can match.
Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Sunday would be the same as last week:
I/C. T. Tautai
I/C. R. Sutton
I/C. R. Navarrette
I/C. M. Escare
The Wigan Rugby Blog predicts:
Score: Castleford 6 – 10 Wigan
First Try Scorer: S. Tomkins
Don’t forget, you can vote for your Man of the Match after the game at www.wiganrugbyfans.com