Wigan's amazing comeback seals Shield triumph
Hull KR 36 Wigan 42
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.
Monday 03 September 2012
Wigan won the League Leaders' Shield for the second time in three years in extraordinary fashion yesterday, producing the biggest comeback in Super League history.
Tries in the last four minutes snatched the victory after they had trailed 26-0 late in the first half and twice by 20 points in the second.
"We weren't at our best, but to come back like we did was unbelievable," said a relieved Shaun Wane, for whom this was a first trophy as Wigan's head coach. "There's a lot of things we need to fix, but one thing we have got is tremendous team spirit."
The Warriors looked anything but a table-topping side in the opening minutes, especially when Brett Finch's pass went to ground and Ryan Hall raced 60 metres for the game's first try.
Hull KR were unlucky not to claim another when Michael Dobson's kick was fumbled by Sam Tomkins. As it was, the former Wigan half-back soon had a second goal, after the visitors were penalised for offside.
Rovers were playing their best rugby for months and went clear when Scott Taylor stood in a tackle to offload and Dobson provided the scoring pass to Lincoln Withers.
Ben Galea marked his final home game for the club he has served so well by capitalising on more good work from Hall and Dobson for the third Rovers' try.
When Jake Webster took advantage of another kick that eluded Tomkins, there looked to be no way back, even for a team like Wigan.
In the minutes before half-time, however, there were ominous signs of the visitors coming back into the game. Finch scored from Tomkins' pass and Darrell Goulding from Josh Charnley's clever cross-kick, but there was still a mountain to climb.
Withers' second score at the start of the second half should have been a nerve-settler, but Rovers' trials were just beginning. Gareth Hock and Pat Richards showed that Wigan were still in pursuit with two quick tries and, even after David Hodgson had scored against his old club, George Carmont kept the Warriors in the hunt.
Liam Farrell's try, from Tomkins' electrifying break, brought Wigan within range and the game and the trophy were sealed when Richards romped over and added the goal. Charnley's last-minute effort made it what Wane called "nice and calm" – it was a million miles from that.
"Not many teams put 36 points on Wigan," said the Rovers' coach, Craig Sandercock. "It bodes well for next season." As for Wane, not surprisingly he admitted "there were times when I thought we needed to change things quickly". His remedy? "Messages were sent out on to the pitch and Tommy Leuluai helped change the game our way."
Hull KR: Sheriff; Salter, Horne, Webster, D Hodgson; Hall, Dobson; Taylor, Withers, Paea, Mika, Galea, Lovegrove. Substitutes used: J.Hodgson, Netherton, Cox, O'Hara.
Wigan: Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Smith; Lima, McIlorum, Flower, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Leuluai, Mossop, Farrell, Hughes.
Referee: T. Alibert (France)..
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