Broncos' Witt exposes gaps in Wigan's defence
Wigan 42 London Broncos 30
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
The DW Stadium
Monday 19 March 2012
Someone was always going to pay for Wigan's shock defeat at Widnes last week, but the Broncos ensured that it was not quite the straightforward transaction it looked. The Warriors duly won, but only after a grave and skilful effort from the Londoners had again raised questions about the home defence.
"It was a great game of tick and pass," said the unimpressed Wigan coach, Shaun Wane. "We scored some good tries but letting in 30 points is unacceptable and we've got a lot of work to do before we play Warrington on Friday."
If ever there was a game with "backlash" written all over it, this was it. Wigan brought back the five regulars they left out last week – Sam Tomkins, Pat Richards, Thomas Leuluai, Sean O'Loughlin and Liam Farrell – plus the fit-again George Carmont and Paul Prescott.
To say it looked ominous for a Broncos side coming north after their first win of the season last week would be an understatement. They gave the lie to that, however, by the way they started. Monopolising the early possession, London had already threatened before Michael Witt picked his way through for the game's first try, which he converted from the touchline.
When Wigan finally got some ball, they made use of it, Brett Finch's dummy creating the gap for his equalising try. That was merely the cue for the Broncos to lift their game. Matt Cook's run smashed a path through the Wigan defence and Luke Dorn's pass put Michael Robertson over in the corner, with Witt this time adding the points from the opposite wing.
Best of all from the Broncos was the try scored by one of their young local products, Dan Sarginson. There seemed to be nothing on when he took a long pass from Craig Gower, but some dazzling footwork took him past two defenders and over the try-line.
Some Wigan supporters were beginning to wonder out loud whether Wane should have fielded a weaker team, but their nerves were settled by three tries in the 10 minutes before half-time.
The power of Gareth Hock brought the first, Darrell Goulding's diagonal run the second. A typical Sam Tomkins break from deep in his own half set up the position from which George Carmont's try put Wigan ahead for the first time.
Hock's game is not all about strength and aggression. There is a high level of skill as well in the way he goes about his work and the one handed pass out of the tackle to set up Pat Richards was a case in point.
Gower's fine break enabled the former Wigan player, Chris Melling, to hit back, but when Finch scored a mirror image of his first-half try and Tomkins caught London napping to go the length of the field, the win looked comfortable. Even then, Witt had the last word with an intercept from Leuluai.
"But when you come somewhere like Wigan and score 30 points," said his coach, Rob Powell, "you have to back it up with some defence."
Wigan: Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Leuluai; Prescott, McIlorum, Lauaki, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Tuson, Farrell, Lima, Flower.
London: Dorn; Robertson, Howell, Sarginson, O'Callaghan; Witt, Gower; Kaufusi, Randall, Clubb, Cook, Golden, Bailey. Substitutes used: Bryant, Rinaldi, Temata, Melling.
Referee: J Child (Dewsbury).
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