Wigan Warriors- Talking Rugby: The play-off game against Leeds should be enough to excite any rugby fan
First of all, it’s quite astonishing how fast this season has flown by.
Even with a week off for Matty Peet’s side, these final few games seem to have come out of nowhere.
A knockout match against Leeds should be enough to get any rugby fan excited, and the atmosphere should certainly represent that.
The history between the sides, and the added Lancashire V Yorkshire edge, always makes this fixture a great spectacle.
The fantastic rugby these two teams are capable of playing should only add to the occasion as well.
There’s not really been a truly competitive game between them so far this season, but you’d think Friday should offer that.
Leeds hadn’t really got going in the first meeting back in February, and the Warriors were far from their best in the fixture at Headingley.
Peet certainly won’t want a repeat from that day, as it was probably their worst performance of the year.
If anything it might help them, as it’ll provide a reminder that they need to be on it against a dangerous Leeds side who have well and truly found their feet.
Wigan’s week off should benefit them, as it provided a great opportunity to recuperate and prepare for what’s to come.
While a rest can sometimes break a team's fluency; the way this season has gone it shouldn’t make a difference.
With the busy schedule and a lot of sides already resting players, the backend of the campaign didn’t provide too much intensity anyway.
Based on how well they’ve prepared for games throughout the majority of the season, their focus won’t have slipped just because they haven’t played for an extended period.
Although Wigan will be grateful to have had the break, and it was the best thing for them, that’s not to say the Rhinos are at a disadvantage.
Right up until the final game of the regular season they were still fighting for their top six place, with their meeting with Castleford Tigers very much having a play-off edge.
They showed grit and patience that day, which they also needed in the eliminator clash with Catalans Dragons.
It’s safe to say the game in Perpignan wasn’t the best advert for rugby league.
The match as a whole weren’t very good, with a number of factors contributing to that.
The discipline was awful, as was the way the officials dealt with each incident.
Things just didn’t click for the Dragons and their frustration was clear, with Rohan Smith’s side clearly remaining focused by just doing their job.
Elsewhere, Huddersfield Giants took on Salford Red Devils in the second eliminator game.
Like Leeds, Paul Rowley’s side seemed to have just found form at the right time, which has obviously been helped by players returning from injury.
They’ve produced some really entertaining stuff, and their semi-final opponents St Helens will be concerned.
A big loss will be Brodie Croft, who is ruled out of Saturday’s game at the Totally Wicked Stadium after failing a HIA.
The Red Devils aren’t the only ones missing key individuals, with other sides also having notable absentees.
Of course, Wigan will be without Liam Farrell and Cade Cust this Friday, with the pair both leaving huge holes to fill.
Meanwhile, Saints have lost Alex Walmsley, which is a massive blow for England at the Rugby League World Cup as well.
With every team having their own hurdles to overcome, it’s truly about which squad can deal with them the best.
Reflecting back again on last weekend’s games, rugby league and other sports had a difficult decision to make following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
All events in England were rightly postponed on the Friday after Her Majesty’s passing, with the game between Leeds and Catalans only taking place because it was being hosted in France.
Sporting fixtures then started to resume the following day, including the fixture at the John Smith’s Stadium.
For rugby, they had little choice other than to play due to their schedule.
The Grand Final date at Old Trafford is firmly set for September 24, and is quickly followed by the start of the World Cup, so the games had to go ahead because there is no wiggle room to rearrange.
Nonetheless, it gave the sport a chance to properly pay its respects, with a minute’s silence at each stadium, black armbands being worn by the players, and renditions of the national anthem.
Football’s reasoning for postponing games is understandable, but they missed an opportunity to pay a proper tribute at grounds up and down the country.
The impact on fans who had already paid for travel and accommodation or freelance staff who would be losing a shift was something that deserved more consideration.
There are arguments for both sides of the debate, but there seemed to be no harm with sports going ahead, as seen at the cricket most notably and the tribute they produced.
Of course there were perhaps some fears of how some supporters would react, but the majority of people are respectful, even if there are a few individuals who are not, as seen at Anfield on Tuesday night at Liverpool’s Champions League game against Ajax.
No matter how people view the monarchy, a minute's silence is a minute's silence, and it should be observed whoever it is for.