Wigan overwhelm Bradford for march on Wembley to gather pace
Wigan 60 Bradford 12
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.
Saturday 20 August 2011
Wigan prepared for the Challenge Cup final with a comfortable win that keeps them on top of Super League. Apart from a second quarter which was distinctly "week before Wembley," they were far too good with a Bradford team with nothing to play for, now that they know they are out of the play-offs for the third year in a row.
As important as the two points for Wigan was coming through the evening without obvious injury problems and they also had Sam Tomkins again in magnificent form with a couple more memorable tries. The Wigan coach, Michael Maguire, rested just three members of his likely Wembley squad and there was little sign of any distraction among those who did play.
Sam Tomkins had already threatened twice in an five minutes of Wigan pressure before George Carmont put them ahead from close range. Five minutes later, a pass from Sean O'Loughlin put Ryan Hoffman through a hole in the Bulls' defence and when Carmont claimed his second, from Patrick Ah Van's in-goal fumble, it all looked easy.
Perhaps that was the way it looked to Wigan, because they went off the boil and became uncharacteristically slack and untidy. That short-coming led to Bradford tries from Craig Kopczak and John Bateman and, had it not been for Pat Richards' effort, the scoreline would have been level at half-time.
Any thoughts of an upset, however, lasted only as long as it took Sam Tomkins to take Liam Farrell's pass, pull out of a despairing tackle and register his 30th try of the season. Superb handling along the line then created one for the almost equally prolific Josh Charnley and Wigan were in the clear.
Bradford were fortunate not to have Paul Sykes sent off for a high tackle on Sam Tomkins. They still paid a price, the Warriors going straight to the other end and scoring through O'Loughlin.
Richards got his second, and, if he had an off-night with his own goal-kicking, that hardly mattered. The gap between the sides was underlined by Sam Tomkins' stunning 90 metre solo. If ever there was a modern player who looks born to grace Wembley, he is surely the man. Harrison Hansen, Charnley and Richards completed the rout.
Wigan: S. Tomkins, Charnley, J. Tomkins, Carmont, Richards, O'Loughlin, Deacon, Lima, Leuluai, Hock, Hansen, Hoffman, Farrell. Substuitutes used: Goulding, McIlorum, Prescott, O'Carroll.
Bradford: Kearney, Ah Van, Sykes, Royston, Raynor, Jeffries, Herbert, Lynch, Addy, Hargreaves, Elima, Sibbit, Langley. Substitutes used: Bateman, Kopczak, O'Brien, Burgess.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
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