Wigan Warriors secured a 2-point gap at the top of the Super League table, as a three-try surge in the second half helped them to a clinical 32-12 victory over Huddersfield Giants in the wet conditions at the Galpharm Stadium.
The sides came into the match level on points at the summit, both knowing that a win would take them into top spot outright. The match started at a frenetic speed, reflecting the quality of the teams on show with the Giants enjoying the better of the opening exchanges, missing early opportunities in the Wigan half as the fierce Warriors defence held out.
The deadlock was broken in the 14th minute. Following a missed penalty goal attempt the Giants from Danny Brough, they capitalised on regaining possession from the restart with a well-worked try. Luke Robinson’s dart from dummy half started the move off as he fooled the floundering defence with a dummy to create space, before passing the ball out right to Leroy Cudjoe who tipped it on to his winger Dean McGillivary who went over in the corner. Brough’s touchline conversion making it 6-0 for the home side.
However, five minutes later Wigan had hit back. On the back of a penalty they drove the ball with the forwards towards the Huddersfield posts, before slipping the ball out wide through hands for Josh Charnley to go over in the right-hand corner. The winger failed to convert his own try in what would be an off night with the boot, as Wigan still trailed 6-4.
The Warriors soon took the lead however, as they made the most of their territorial advantage. With the ball moved out again, Sam Tmkins stood up Scott Grix before he slid his way over near the corner, grounding the ball under pressure from the defenders to put the visitors 8-6 ahead.
The under-pressure Giants were forced into mistakes in their own half, with Wigan being handed possession near the Giants’ line. Charnley put down an opportunity to score as he failed to take a bobbling pass. However, minutes later off the back of a Huddersfield knock-on and a penalty a neat move which culminated in Charnley’s second. Sea O’Loughlin flicked the ball out to Darrell Goulding whose low pass was caught at his heels impressiely by Charnley, as the winger continues to reap the rewards for his side’s dominant form this season, going over over for his 18th try of Super League XVII. 12-6 the halftime score.
After the restart, Huddersfield struck back to make it a level game again. They capitalised on a repeat set with a superb score finished off by impressive young fullback Greg Eden. The 21-year old former Castleford youngster pounced on Grix’s inside pass on an agle to step past the defenders at speed to go in under the posts. With the conversion a formality it looked as if the match was going to be the close-fought contest it had promised.
However, Eden turned almost immediately from hero to villain, as he dropped Brett Finch’s high kick on Wigan’s next attack to gift George Carmont the easiest of tries. The fourth missed conversion from Charnley kept it at 16-12.
However, goalkicking would prove not to be Wigan’s downfall as they scored two more tries in quick succession to put the match to bed. Liam Farrell got on the end of Thomas Leuluai’s short pass to shrug off Kevin Brown and go over and after young Cook Island winger Anthony Gelling put down a sitter, Carmont soon after was in for his second. A cutting edge move set up the try with Michael McIlorum, Leuluai and Finch combining to find Gareth Hock who tipped the ball on to the Kiwi centre for Wigan’s sixth. The Warriors now leading 26-12.
The final quarter saw Giants continued to make mistakes in their inventive desperation to get out their own half and quell Wigan’s dominance and it was no surprise as Jeff Lima wrapped up the win for Wigan late on, barging over the defence to go over for Wigan’s seventh try in another impressive victory which sends ominous signs out to the rest of Super League.
Featured image: guardian.co.uk