Wigan Warriors host Wakefield Trinity this Bank Holiday Monday in a must-win game for the reigning Champions. Wigan are four league games without a win, while Wakefield have won their last four, beating Catalan, Leigh, Widnes and Huddersfield.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan come into this game on the back of a devastating 22-19 last minute defeat to local rivals St Helens. Saints made a great start to the game, scoring the opening try after just four minutes through Ryan Morgan. They were in full control for the opening 10-15 minutes, then following a few handling errors, Wigan started to come back into it. In their first real attack, Wigan were over through Tom Davies in the corner. A few minutes later, George Williams slotted a penalty over and Wigan led 8-6. It got even better for Shaun Wane and his players on the half-hour mark, as Sam Powell made a superb run from dummy-half, and found Lewis Tierney on his inside who went under the posts to put Wigan 14-6 ahead. Wigan were in charge at this stage, and looked favourites for the next try, which would have put them in an unbelievable position. However, Saints hit back through Zeb Taia just before halftime to put them just 14-12 behind. Percival missed a penalty right on the hooter, which would have levelled the scores, but instead Wigan led 14-12 at halftime. The second half was a much tenser affair, as Wigan had to defend for a full 10 minutes on their own line, and managed to somehow keep the Saints out. Wigan would then go up field and score the first try of the half through Joe Burgess. Wigan now led 18-12 with just under 20 minutes to go. Saints hit back with a try through Mark Percival to level the scores, and minutes later after Matty Smith missed a drop-goal attempt, Thomas Leuluai kicked one of his own to put Wigan 19-18 up with just over five minutes to go. Then, in the 77th minute, Mark Percival rose highest to beat Tierney to the high ball and win the game for Saints, in the most dramatic fashion. Wigan looked broken as the game finished 22-19.
Wakefield Trinity come into this game on the back of a battling 28-26 win over the Huddersfield Giants. Huddersfield led 18-16 at halftime, and led 24-22 with just under 10 minutes to go. But the battling efforts of Wakefield proved too strong, as they snatched the win. It was Trinity who got off to a quick start, as the ever-impressive Ben Jones-Bishop finished wonderfully in the corner. That would be their last points for a while, as the Giants scored three tries through Jake Mamo, Jermain McGillvary and Lee Gaskell. The best of the bunch was a superb solo effort from the full-back Mamo. Giants now led 18-6 after just 22 minutes. At this stage, the game was rather one sided, and Giants where looking good for their 12-point lead. Wakefield have tries in them, especially at home, so they’d have expected a Trinity surge at some point. That finally began it, in the 32nd minute as Reece Lyne skipped past two Giants defenders to go over for the try. Then, just before halftime Danny Kirmond showed great strength to power his way over the line and send Trinity just 18-16 behind at halftime. You sensed the Giants needed the better start in the second half, and they got just that with a Dale Ferguson try, which put them 24-16 up. Trinity wouldn’t go away, and Lyne scored his second of the game following a real calamity from Giants full-back, Mamo. Martin Ridyard would kick a penalty in the 67th minute to put Huddersfield 26-22 up, but there was still a twist to come in this game. Then, as the game entered its final 10 minutes, the ball went through the hands, and finally found Jones-Bishop who finished with ease in the corner, to level the game at 26-26. Sam Williams would then kick an unbelievable conversion from right out wide to win the game for Wakefield.
Ben Jones-Bishop was influential in Wakefield’s last game, and scored the crucial match winning try. However, he has been left out for this game with Wigan, and I’m not too sure why. It’s safe to say that Wigan will be happy to hear that news as he is Trinity’s danger man, and the one player that Wigan would not have been looking forward to playing against. As for Wigan, Tom Davies had a great game last week against Saints, while Liam Marshall was a little quite for his usual standards. I’d expect both to be on the scoresheet in this one, and Wakefield will know of their threat.
Thomas Leuluai’s return last week was a welcomed one for Wigan. He had a good game and you could see just how they’d missed the New Zealand international. On its day, the partnership with Williams is the best in the league, without doubt. As for Wakefield, they’ll have Jacob Miller and Liam Finn in the halves, a pairing that’s been crucial to Trinity’s superb season so far. Miller is always a danger, and pops up in the most dangerous of positions. It should be a cracking encounter between both sets of halves, and they’ll play a huge part in their team’s success on the day.
Finally, the battle between the forwards will be a bone-crunching affair. They faced each other a few weeks ago, and the forwards played a huge part in the game, pushing their side downfield. With the likes of Taulima Tautai, Willie Isa, Jack Wells, Ryan Sutton and Sean O’Loughlin for Wigan, coming up against the likes of David Fifita, Anthony England, Tinirau Arona, Craig Huby and the debutant Adam Walker. Both sides are full of huge, impact players, who play a key role in their team’s games. Whichever side gets the upper hand down the middles will go far in winning this crucial game.
This is a huge game for Wigan, and one they cannot afford to lose. A win for Wakefield doesn’t only put them four points clear of Wigan, but also puts them into a great position for the top four. I just cannot see the Warriors losing this game, it’s too huge and Shaun Wane knows that.
Wigan Warriors by 16
Wigan Warriors winger Tom Davies:
“It was a big effort (against Saints) and we’ll take the positives from it. It’s a short turnaround and we’ll do the best we can to get the victory on Monday.”
“We’re improving and we’ve got to keep that going.
“They’re a good team and Chris Chester is doing a great job with them. We keep one eye on the table, but we’re coming together as a team.
Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester:
“We’ve won five on the bounce and the law of averages says you’re going to have a bad performance in one of them.
“It was pretty ugly (against Huddersfield), we definitely got out of jail.
“I can’t ask for more, to come back from two scores down, it was a real gritty performance but we need to be quite a lot better in a lot of areas to get something out of the game on Monday.
Shaun Wane makes two changes from the squad that lost to St Helens, with Joel Tomkins and Liam Forsyth dropping out as both Romain Navarette and youngster James Worthington come into the squad.
Chris Chester makes two changes from the squad that beat Huddersfield Giants on Friday night, with Keegan Hirst and Ben Jones-Bishop dropping out as both Mikey Sio and new signing Adam Walker come into the squad.
Wigan Warriors: Joe Burgess, Tom Davies, Liam Farrell, Callum Field, Nick Gregson, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Michael Mcilorum, Romain Navarette, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Jack Wells & George Williams and James Worthington.
Wakefield Trinity: Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, James Batchelor, Mason Caton-Brown, Anthony England, David Fifita, Liam Finn, Ashley Gibson, Scott Grix, Craig Huby, Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Mikey Sio, Bill Tupou, Adam Walker, Sam Williams and Kyle Wood.
Referee: Chris Campbell
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Monday 29th May 2017 – 15:00pm GMT