Shaun Wane said afterwards that he was
always confident we would "scrag" the win but personally
with 15 minutes to go I can't say I shared that confidence.
Wigan had been awful for the majority of
the second half but what turned the game was the return of
Ben Flower and Dom Crosby from the moment it went to 18-8.
During the times those two were on the
field (first 20-25 minutes and the last 15 minutes) this
game was 20-0 in Wigan's favour. Without them it was 18-0
to Rovers. That say's it all I think. Wigan's interchange
didn't really offer much in this game.
The weather played a huge part in the
amount of mistakes shown by both sides but that and losing
Dan Sarginson to injury in the warm up didn't stop Wigan
getting off to a great start.
A good cut out pass from Sam Tomkins got
Dom Manfredi in the corner but watching live their was
plenty of controversy about it. It looked to me at the time
that Dom was well short and in touch but looking back now
on Wigan TV it looks a great call. The tackling Iain
Thornley is underneath him so his feet never find touch and
he plonks it down in the corner. Smith couldn't convert but
with the driving horrible fine rain it was a tough night
for kicking off the touchline.
That try was repeated on 13 minutes with
Sam again cutting out Gelling to find Manfredi. This time a
far simpler finish in the corner but Smith again couldn't
convert so it was only 8-0.
Wigan had been reasonably composed
during this start and I felt another score would be a
better reflection of the territory but slowly the mistakes
started to creep in and the interchanges of Crosby (20
minutes) and Flower (26 minutes) saw the tide turn.
Rovers got back into the game with a
kick to the right being fumbled by Lewis Tierney and Albert
Kelly pounced on the loose ball to score on the right side.
Ken Sio converted for 8-6.
That score held for the final ten
minutes of the first half and then the first ten minutes of
the second half before a moment of
incredulity gifted Rovers the lead.
Wigan are 25 metres out and Willie Isa
is playing the ball and not Wigan player is in place to
receive it. I called this unprofessional and disgraceful on
commentary because this wasn't after a break, this was a
standard play the ball with every Wigan player in an
attacking line. It was a horrible error that Kelly pounced
on and within seconds it was returned up the other end for
a try to Thomas Minns under that Ken Sio converted for 12-8
The game was now descending in a
dreadful watch with tons of errors but it was Rovers who
found another score on 63 minutes with Mitch Allgood being
sent under the sticks for 18-8 after an easy conversion.
In these conditions a two score lead was
huge and to be honest I just couldn't see a Wigan comeback
happening but as well as Crosby and Flower returning, it
was a great break sixty metre run from dummy half by
Tierney that turned the tide. I'm not quite sure why he put
the brakes on against Iain Thornley and didn't back himself
but the damage had been done. From the play the ball, Wigan
went right and Sam Tomkins found Gelling who beat poor
tackling by Kieran Dixon to finish in the corner.
If you'd been listening on radio, I'd
been suggesting we might take Gelling off because he was
struggling with some kind of leg injury and this was
affecting his game but he must have done well to get up
field to be in place to finish that. Smith converting
reduced the lead to 18-14.
Ten minutes still remained but it was
with only three minutes to go that Wigan got the scores
level. Dane Tilse was playing a huge part in this comeback
with four errors I remember being a factor. Wigan got up on
the line and it fell to Sam Tomkins to jink his way over.
Albert Kelly's defence was awful here, weak to say the
least but it made the score 18-18 and now Smith had a kick
to win it from half way between the posts and touchline.
In this weather it wasn't easy but Smith
kicked it to put Wigan 20-18 up and a miraculous escape was
now 90 seconds away.
Wigan never seem to do well on short
kick offs. They lost this one and Kelly looked like he had
tons of space in front of him but referee Thaler found a
knock on and Wigan were brilliantly slow in seeing out a
full set and the remaining time.
Rovers might put to Terry Campese being
taken off as being a factor to their late collapse but I
thought he was pretty quiet in this game. Albert Kelly was
offering more but he is a defensive liability and his
attempt late on Tomkins was pitiful.
Reality is Rovers really shouldn't have
lost from 18-8. The win masks the fact that the no one to
receive play the ball contributed hugely to the momentum
that saw us go ten points down and almost cost us this
We found a way to win though and that is
a great trait of this Wigan side. Given the weather, this
match was all about the result and it's a fair point to say
that these conditions were not really expected after a hot
and very dry week leading up to it. It extends our winning
run to four games and we'll now move on to Widnes and see
how we go on that night.