When I was completing research prior to the preview of last night’s game, I found myself baffled by one particular discovery – Widnes winger Corey Thompson has the second most league tries this season. And suddenly, I thought to myself, how on earth has he got there?
While the Australian had a storming start to the season, scoring ten tries in the first six, he wasn’t half as good when Denis Betts’ men lost eight in a row. But thankfully, his performance against Wigan reminded me, as if by telepathy, why the 26-year old now has 23 for the season.
His link-up play with skipper Kevin Brown in the first half was impeccable, but that was only half the job. The decision to stay motionless after receiving Brown’s kick was a perfect one, as Dan Sarginson went sliding into touch, while the former strolled in for an easy finish.
Thompson’s second score was a move I’ve been craving to see for a long time. Upon finding himself with a finish in the corner, the 2016 recruit usually attempts to barge his way through in the corner, more often than not leading to frustration as he goes over the touchline.
But for one of the first times this year, Thompson dived in at the corner, and it was a relief to see him pull it off – he was highlighted as a good finisher upon his arrival in Widnes, but his second last night was the best finish I’ve seen him produce all year.
And as for half-back Joe Mellor, I think he epitomised the Widnes defence. He was absolutely everywhere. It’s been the case all season, but he particularly stood out against Wigan for his undying determination to get back and tackle when no-one else would. Teammates have shown flashes of the same trait throughout the season, but Mellor has shown it consistently, week in, week out.
The former Warrior’s pass out wide to set up Thompson’s second was dubiously exquisite. It was perfectly timed, but also slightly forward – cue the Wigan outcry during the video replays. But by the laws of the game, a forward pass is never going to be flagged up by video repeats. And Thompson’s foot was perfectly in play, so we should praise the pass for what it was.
It’s two wins from four in the Super Eights for Widnes now, but perhaps more pertinently, it’s two wins away at Wigan in one season since 1981-82. Corey Thompson and Joe Mellor were both outstanding in a second victory over Shaun Wane’s men.