Tom McCooey looks at five talking points from Wigan’s win over Leeds on Friday.
1. It’s doable.
Much has been said about what was a growing gap between Wigan and a top four play-off spot, but a resurgence which has seen them pick up points in three of their last four league games means the gap is now only three points.
With seven games to go, that’s now no longer the leg-burning hill it once was. Though it makes the previous week’s loss to Warrington even more frustrating.
2. The Challenge Cup is still important.
If you listen to some people, Wembley has lost its spark, the Cup is no longer magic.
A recent re-shuffle of the comp has made it easier for top sides to reach the final – they only have to win three games – but Wembley is still a Holy Grail. Admittedly injuries have bitten across the board but two of this weekend’s semi-finalists lost against teams lower than them in the table and Hull struggled to see off Huddersfield. Cup semis on the radar? Possibly.
3. Signs of Wigan’s crisp attack returning are starting to show.
Okay, the 34-0 against Leeds needs to be assessed deeper than the scoreline. Leeds were weakened and some of Wigan’s moves frustratingly broke down. But, especially in the second half, Wigan’s tries were pleasing to watch and a big confidence boost at the right time.
4. Super League players are hard.
Nothing new there of course but there were some tackles that would rattle you more than a pothole on the M6.
Willie Isa got up from a clash with Mitch Garbutt on the very first tackle of the game and later on Tony Clubb (how great is Clubby by the way?) rattled Jamie Jones Buchanan to the crowd’s delight and again, the pair got up and got in with it. Sam Tomkins also received a nasty cut and played on with a headguard protecting the dressing while Joe Burgess was sick and carried on.
Leeds boss Brian McDermott pointed to how his debutantes Alex Sutcliffe, Harry Newman and Harvey Whiteley found the speed of the collision a shock and it just goes to show how tough it is.
I’ll stay behind a desk thanks.
Shaun Wane bemoaned Wigan’s kick defence last week and demanded a response. We’re aware this was a weakened Leeds team but he got one in shutting out the Rhinos. It was only the second time in Super League Leeds have been nilled and is another area of Friday’s game, which by no means was a classic, to take encouragement from.