Wigan Warriors will host Huddersfield Giants this Sunday at the DW Stadium. Wigan will be looking to maintain their 100% start to the season, while the Giants will be aiming to stop the rot, and claim their first win over Wigan since 2014.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan Warriors come into this game on the back of a 38-16 win over the struggling Warrington Wolves. It was a superb evening for young Liam Marshall, who took all the headlines, scoring four, in only his second ever game for the Wigan first team. Wigan had a blinding first half, storming into a 20-0 lead through tries from Anthony Gelling, Liam Farrell and two from Liam Marshall. Warrington were short of ideas in the opening 40, but managed to get over right on halftime, when Tom Lineham broke down the left-hand side, found Kevin Brown on his inside, who sent Ryan Atkins over in a superb 80-metre effort to give Wire some hope going into the second half. Just minutes into the second half, Liam Marshall would complete his hat-trick, pouncing on a misplaced Warrington pass, to go 70-metres. A first Wigan try for Jack Wells furthered Wigan’s lead to 32-6. Rhys Evans got one back for Warrington just before Liam Marshall dove in the corner to get his fourth of the game. Tom Lineham would get the last points of the game in the corner, as Warrington stayed bottom of the league with a devastating 38-16 loss to the hands of Wigan.
Huddersfield Giants come into this game on the back of a 30-0 loss away at Super League newcomers, Leigh Centurions. The Giants were looking for their second away win of the season after beating Widnes in the season opener. However, it was a bad night at the office for Rick Stone’s men, as they struggled to get anything going in attack, and looked lost in defence. Leigh ran in for five tries on the night, while also staying strong in defence keeping the Giants out for the full 80. Centurions won the first half 12-0, through tries from Adam Higson and Jamie Acton to give them a decent lead going into the second half. However, even after a lacklustre performance, head coach Stone, would have still fancied their chances, only being two-scores behind. It wasn’t to be though, as in the second half, Giants would waste chance after chance, and seemed out of ideas near the Leigh line. Then, with just over 10 minutes to go, Danny Tickle would make it an impossible task for Giants as Leigh went 18-0 up. Leigh would go over for another two tries in the final 10 minutes through Sam Hopkins and Ben Reynolds to really rub salt in the Giants wound, and seal a 30-0 win.
It should be a good battle in the halves, with the in-form George Williams and Tommy Leuluai coming up against Danny Brough and Ryan Brierley. Now, while the Giants pair have struggled to maintain a good partnership this season, they both still are very dangerous players on their day, and could cause Wigan some troubles if they click this Sunday. Brough is looking to move up to ninth in rugby league’s all-time leading scorers list, needing just six points to overtake Lewis Jones. Meanwhile, the partnership of Williams and Leuluai has started on fire, the pair being directly involved in 10 tries this season.
I seem to say this every week, but it’s the truth. The forward pack of Wigan will yet again be a major key in the result of this game. It seems week in, week out, the Warriors forwards play a huge part in their games, driving them down field to get them in the position to score the tries. Wigan have two players in the top five metre makers so far this season. They do a great job, and put in a real shift each week, and I think they’ll have too much for a depleted Giants forward pack.
Wigan fans will be eager to see how well Liam Marshall does again this week. After scoring four last week against Warrington, there will be a bit of extra pressure on him to deliver again. By all accounts, young Tom Davies will be on the other wing for Wigan, getting his first team debut. It’s exciting times for Wigan fans, with so much talent coming through their academy system. Giants welcomed Jermain McGillvary back last week, and after blowing the cobwebs off against Leigh, I’m sure he’ll be looking to get back to scoring ways against Wigan on Sunday.
I can see this being another long 80 minutes for Rick Stone’s men. Wigan are in fine form at the moment, just coming off a superb win away at Warrington. Meanwhile, Huddersfield have lost back-to-back games, and are struggling to get anything going. Their attack last week was poor, and their defence was way off their best. Wigan will have had a nine-day rest, and will be fresh and ready to continue their 100% start to the campaign.
Wigan Warriors by 28
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“I went watching their game against Leigh, I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game. They had a real dig.”
“Rick Stone will be into his players and want a response this week. Their confidence is low at the moment but all it takes is for them to put in a good 40 minutes and its game on.”
“We’ll give them the respect they deserve.”
Huddersfield Giants head coach, Rick Stone:
“It’s a good opportunity and a good challenge, Wigan are a tough team and are one of the powers of Super League.”
“It’s a good challenge for our blokes to go there and hopefully the boys that played last week who were on the fringe of fitness will be a bit more comfortable this week.”
“Wigan are tough, aggressive and really committed defensively. There are a couple of things we can have a look at but trying to match them physically is our first call.”
Shaun Wane names an un-changed 19-man squad, with young Tom Davies expected to replace Liam Forsyth out on the wing.
Huddersfield’s Rick Stone, meanwhile, has made one change, with Mikey Wood coming in to replace Gene Ormsby.
Wigan Warriors: Bretherton, Clubb, Davies, Escaré, Farrell, Flower, Forsyth, Gelling, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, Navarette, Nuuausala, O’Loughlin, Powell, Tautai, J Tomkins, Wells and Williams.
Huddersfield Giants: McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, Murphy, Brough, Brierley, Rapira, Hinchcliffe, Wakeman, Leeming, Ikahihifo, Roberts, Ta’ai, Clough, Smith, Dickinson, McIntosh, Wood and Mellor.
Referee: Chris Kendall
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Sunday 19th March 2017 – 15:00pm GMT