WIGAN MAKE IT FOUR IN A ROW

Wigan Warriors scored two late try’s to secure their place in next weeks Grand Final for the fourth year in a row, after defeating Hull FC 28-18 at the DW stadium on Friday night. Wigan looked to be coasting towards the Final in the first half, but a great 20 minute spell in the second half for Hull turned the game on it’s head. As Hull seemed to be holding on well, Wigan did what they’ve been doing all season long, won a game late on. It was a great game of Rugby League, a game worthy of a Play-Off Semi-Final, both sides should be proud of their efforts.

It was almost a game of two halves, with Wigan the clear dominant and more attacking side in the first half, then for a good 20-30 minutes, Hull had the majority of the ball and advantage in the second. It was the final 10 minutes that won it for Wigan. Not only their two try’s, but in between both of those try’s, Wigan defended repeat sets on their own line were it seemed like Hull were going over to win it themselves.

Wigan now go on to their fourth consecutive Grand Final, we’re they will play Warrington Wolves. A repeat of the 2013 Grand Final were Wigan won 30-16. Warrington will be looking to secure their first ever Grand Final victory, while Wigan will be looking to stop the rot and win their first since that 2013 win over Warrington. It’s a fitting Final really, as its 1st vs 2nd and the two best sides in Super League going head to head for the sports biggest and most treasured prize. Im sure it’ll be an absolute cracker.

DOMINANT FIRST HALF

Wigan started this game on the front foot, they looked out to make a point. After some early pressure, Lewis Tierney went over in the corner for the first try of the game after just 7 minutes. It was some great play that went through the hands out wide, and was finished off powerfully by Tierney. Exactly 7 minutes later, Wigan was in again. It was a carbon copy of the first try, as the ball went through the hands to find Tierney as the winger finished it off in the corner to double the Warriors lead to 8-0.

Wigan were well on top in the first half, putting the pressure on the FC line, but the black and white defence stood strong and did very well to keep the Warriors out. If there was one thing in this first half that would’ve disappointed head coach, Lee Radford, it was there attack. Especially the way they finished their sets. Sneyd’s kicking game was way off in the first half, and every finish to their sets was too easy for Wigan to deal with. Hull never really threatened to score in the first half, and Wigan defended with ease to keep them out.

It looked set to be 8-0 at halftime, which would’ve been a real result for FC. However, right on the hooter, Bateman picked up a charged down kick, to run right through the middle of the Hull defence and slide under the posts for a huge try. Smith kicked the conversion and sent Wigan 14-0 up at halftime. You sensed it was a huge try right before halftime, giving Wigan a three try lead, the way Hull were playing, you felt that could’ve been enough. How wrong you’d have been.

HULL CAMEBACK STRONG

Hull knew what they had to do, they needed to come out and start well, get an early try and they were well and truly back in this Semi-Final. It was a case of ‘same again’ for Wigan, just keep defended well and finish them off when you get the chance. It was Hull who started the better in the second half. After a Wigan error near their own line, FC had their chance. They managed to capitalise on this chance when Josh Bowden barged over to get his side right back in this game.

Only 2 minutes later, Hull were in again. This time it was Liam Watts who powered his way over from close range, and all of a sudden it was 14-12 with only 7 minutes of the second half played. It was a fanatstic spell for FC and Wigan looked shellshocked and needed something to slow the game down and stop the FC momentum. They got that in the 54th minute as Wigan got a penalty near the posts and decided to take the kick at goal. It wasted a minute or so and just seemed to calm the game down. Smith kicked the goal and Wigan led 16-12.

In the 62nd minute came the most bizarre and controversial moment of the game. Hull FC kicked out wide and the ball bobbled over the line, when Michaels looked to have put the ball down, only for Gildart to pickup the lose ball and go the full length of the pitch to score for the Warriors. The referee had no clue, and sent it up to the video referee to look at a potential try for both sides.

In what was a complete farce, it took video referee, Ben Thaler 5 minutes and 25 seconds with 24 separate looks to make a decision. From a my view in the stands, it looked like Michaels had indeed just about got a fingertip on the ball and scored. The try was given to Michaels and following a superb kick from Sneyd, Hull FC were amazing 18-16 in front in this dramatic Semi-Final.

Let me make it clear, it wasn’t the final decision that was the farce, it was the length of time looking at the same angle while players were forced to keep warm and limber while waiting for a decision. I mean, 5 minutes and 25 seconds over a decision is a joke, especially with all the camera angles they have. The whole video refereeing system needs a real overhaul during the off-season, thats something I think the majority of Rugby League fans will agree on.

NEVER KNOW WHEN THEY’RE BEAT

With just 15 minutes to go, Hull lead 18-16 and looked in good shape to see out the game as Wigan were shocked by the turnaround. However, Wigan have made a name for themselves this season by coming back from the dead and winning games late on. There was still that feel of optimism throughout the Wigan fans as they continued to sing and cheer their side on. Wigan started to get ahold of the ball again and looked dangerous, but they just couldn’t get through the stubborn FC line.

It was in the 71st minute and on the last, Smith found Isa who looked to be held just short of the line, when he flung a hopeful pass backwards, Sam Powell was stood waiting, the hooker pounced on the ball and dove under the posts to put Wigan ahead as the DW Stadium erupted. Smith kicked the easy conversion, Wigan led 22-18 with 7 minutes to go.

Hull had their chances in the final moments, as it looked for all money that Fonua was over as the FC fans erupted, but he was held just short of the line. Hull had repeated sets on the Wigan line but just couldn’t get past the cherry and white wall. It was a great show of character from the Warriors to stay strong and hold Hull out. In the final moments of the game, Wigan had a set right on the FC line, as fans shouted, “take your time”, “stick it up the jumper”, “nothing stupid.” However, Wigan swung the ball out wide, which eventually found the hands of Gelling, who moved out wide and found a gap in the FC line to go over and seal the game for Wigan.

Smith kicked the resulting conversion and wrapped up a dramatic 28-18 win for Wigan, which saw them go through to next weeks Grand Final to play Warrington Wolves. Hull came so close, but just seemed to run out of gas towards the end of the season, they should be real proud of their efforts this season, they’ve been brilliant throughout, a real breath of fresh air to Rugby League. Meanwhile, Wigan’s season will go another week, the biggest and most telling week of their season.

POST-GAME MEDIA

Wigan head coach Shaun Wane told BBC Radio Manchester:

“Tough game, you’d expect that with Hull, they’re a champion team, coached by champ. We were fortunate we got the win.

“First half was good, we defended really well and had patience with our attack, but to allow Hull back into the game was poor.

“I’m chuffed for all the young players, what they’ve done and come through the adversity, the fans who have stuck behind us, to get the win at home in the manner we did was great and exciting. Lewis is a junior full-back, playing on the wing and he’s done really well.

“We’ve won one, we just need to make sure this fourth game is a must win, we’ve got players leaving the club and we need them to go out with a win.”

Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37488397

Hull FC head coach Lee Radford told BBC Radio Humberside:

“It’s been a really long season, team now hitting form have had a lot of blokes busted but we’ve been consistently fit, played a lot of footy and the players look drained, it’s a real marathon.

“I’m actually pleased within myself in the way we finished, if we’d gone out the way we did in the first half you’d have been speaking to a very disappointed and frustrated coach.

“That’s how we’ve played in these eights, the first period we had no real grit or desire to build pressure but we flick the switch at half-time and we really saw that response.

“99% of that group will be here next year and we’ll be better for it.”

Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37488397

IN THE SHEDS

There were no injuries to report after the game. Although there were a few players who left the pitch during the game, due to injury concerns. Wigan Warriors’ Dan Sarginson broke his nose early in the first half, he got it strapped up and returned straight away. While Hull FC pair Thompson and Watts left for treatment but both returned.

While this game was a real rough and tough game of Rugby, there were no incidents in the game that would call the RFL to look back on and take action against anyone.

FINAL SCORE

Wigan Warriors: (14) 28

Tries: Tierney 2, Bateman, Powell, Gelling

Goals: Smith 4/6

Hull FC: (0) 18

Tries: Bowden, Watts, Michaels

Goals: Sneyd 3/3

MATCH DETAILS

Wigan Warriors: Sarginson; Charnley, Gelling, Gildart, Tierney; Williams, Smith, Crosby, Powell, Nuuausala, Bateman, Farrell, Isa.

Replacements: Tautai, Sutton, Shorrocks, Bretherton.

Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa; Tuimavave, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Pritchard, Minichiello, Washbrook.

Replacements: Green, Bowden, Thompson, Abdull.

Referee: Robert Hicks

Attendance: 10, 013

Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan

Date/Time: Friday 30th September 2016 – 20:00pm GMT