Wigan Warriors 16 Huddersfield Giants 12: Five things we learned

Five talking points from Wigan Warriors' 16-12 victory against Huddersfield Giants...

Monday, 12th July 2021, 10:34 am
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 10:36 am
Harry Smith goes over for a try

1. Fifty days. That's how long Wigan fans had to wait for their next victory following their last-gasp 17-16 win at Salford in May.

During that time, the Warriors have had a game postponed, been whacked in France, lost derbies to Saints and Wire and been edged out by Hull KR and Wakefield.

And lost more players to injuries, too.

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Little wonder the over-riding feeling at full-time on Sunday was relief. It wasn't always pretty, but after going 12-0 down they worked their way back into the game with a Liam Marshall try, with further scores from recalled Mitch Clark and Harry Smith.

2. After a five game losing run, many fans would have taken any win before kick-off.

So with that in mind, perhaps it's harsh to be too critical of Wigan's performance.

On the positive side, their discipline was better and their defence - bar a couple of lapses - was solid, limiting the Giants to two early opportunistic tries.

But once again they started slowly, once again they trailed at the break, and once again their attack mis-fired.

They did add more offloads than usual, and occasionally it served them well, but Adrian Lam was right to highlight that better execution - and better options - would have changed the complexion of the game.

Personnel changes account for some of their problems, as does the fact some players are still finding their feet after lay-offs - such as Marshall, who tried hard throughout.

Another factor, says Lam, is their low confidence from their losing run - so hopefully it will improve now they are building on a win.

3. Kai Pearce-Paul took the man of the match award for another impressive display.

The towering second-rower - operating on the right side - is proving a real handful for defences, and his controlled offloads give the team an extra attacking dimension.

Lam will relish a selection dilemma when he also has Willie Isa and John Bateman in the mix for second-row spots!

With hooker Brad O'Neill again offering promise from the bench - his late pass nearly allowed Harry Smith to wrap the game up - and a composed outing from fellow teenager Umyla Hanley, the chance to accelerate the youngsters' development has been one positive from Wigan's injury problems.

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4. Jackson Hastings was again picked at full-back.

He was again one of Wigan's best players, but many fans want him restored to halfback where he can have a greater influence.

Lam, though, has decided to shield youngster Hanley from the pivotal No.1 role.

With so many absentees right now, he wants his best players on the pitch at the same time - and playing Hastings at full-back allows Smith and captain Thomas Leuluai to also play 80 minutes.

Regular full-back Bevan French is back in Australia after being ruled out for the rest of this year with a hamstring injury, while Zak Hardaker (neck) and Jai Field (hamstring) are recovering from injuries.

5. Finally, a word on Huddersfield.

Wigan may have been without nine frontline players but the Giants had it worse, with 12 players absent on Sunday.

They had to call off their previous match due to the number of players missing. Ian Watson was understandably proud of their effort against Wigan, who they host this Friday night, with young winger Olly Ashall-Bott and veteran forward Chris McQueen among those who impressed.