Wigan 24 Castleford 22: Five things we learned
Five things we learned from Wigan's 24-22 win against Castleford...
1. And to think, not long ago Wigan were known as a second-half side!
By the break, they had established a 20-0 lead and looked very much like a team in second spot - they were urgent, tidy, slick, physical, expansive.
But their scoring from that point on was limited to two penalties - from Morgan Escare and later Sam Tomkins - as Castleford made rapid improvements to set up a nail-biting finish.
2. A social media call for man of the match suggestions attracted a list of candidates.
‘Definitely John Bateman’, ‘Joe Greenwood for me’, ‘Ben Flower by a mile...’
There were other good contributions, too - including a strong debut from prop Ollie Partington, the latest to roll off the academy production-line.
But in reflection Sam Tomkins had the biggest say, despite a spell on the sidelines because of a migraine. Ultimately, his penalty with four minutes to go proved decisive.
3. While this Super-8s hardly looks like it is going to fulfil the early ‘every minute matters’ mantra, this win was quite important.
Had Wigan lost, they would have slipped to third, but victory ensured they tightened their grip on second spot - which is rewarded with a home semi-final.
They have a three point buffer on the chasing pack, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Catalans.
4. Future coaches Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards got a first-hand glimpse of what they will have to work with next season.
They flanked chairman Ian Lenagan in the directors’ box - many fans in front turned and applauded their arrival before kick-off.
Lam, interim boss next year until Edwards takes over, will fly home to Australia tonight after taking in the Under-19s and reserves games.
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5. Castleford coach Daryl Powell says the penalty which gifted Tomkins the late strike at goal was a wrong call by referee James Child.
But he refused to seek excuses and said they can’t play as they did in the opening half - which he said was “unspeakable” - and expect to win.
They attacked well in the second-half and with Luke Gale back soon, still pose a threat in the home straight.