Wigan Warriors- The 18th man: 'The Castleford game was a reflection of the great culture we have'

The 18th man contributors reflect on Wigan Warriors’ victory over Castleford Tigers and look ahead to their next game against Salford Red Devils.
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Robert Kenyon

The Castleford game was a reflection of the great culture we have at Wigan.

Usually the Challenge Cup winners lose their next game but we went to deepest Yorkshire and smashed Cas to bits in their backyard with half a team.

Willie Isa and Sam Powell both featured in Wigan's win against CastlefordWillie Isa and Sam Powell both featured in Wigan's win against Castleford
Willie Isa and Sam Powell both featured in Wigan's win against Castleford
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It was good to see two grafters back in the side, those being Sam Powell and Willie Isa.

The bans, injuries and the resting of players, allowed Peet to try a different look to the team and we played fantastic.

Field had a quiet game as did French, it was a small pitch and both were adjusting to a changed position.

Not sure where Field and French will slot into when Leuluai or Cust comes back but neither did enough against Cas to warrant playing in that position again.

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We are halfway through the season and not far off the top of the league, with the Challenge Cup in the bag, so I'm hoping the players don't take their foot off the gas but in the same breath, don't burn themselves out.

Maybe regroup and target the final 10 games of the season ensuring we peak for the playoffs.

We play Salford away which without Ian Watson as coach isn't as daunting as it was previously.

Again, I'd use it as another opportunity to rest players and trial players on the fringes, and I'd be looking at giving Sam Halsall a start with Thornley injured.

Glynn Bradshaw

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First of all, a great win the week after the Challenge Cup Final victory, which as was alluded to in the commentary, is something not many teams achieve.

In the game itself, we got off to another slow start, which has become the norm in the last few games and something we need to address.

There was no fluency at all in the first half.

However what a difference in the second half, our forwards dominated, allowing Harry Smith to become more of an influence and we totally controlled proceedings

Loved the post-match celebrations in the changing room, with Sean O’Loughlin OBE banging the drum.

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We really have a tight knit squad at the moment and it is great to see.

Special thanks to Castleford as well, nice touch, sending a crate of beer and a card into our changing room after the game, as a well done for last week

The Salford game will be another tough one, after they played well at the DW earlier in the season, and were only undone by a Jai Field special.

They have some dangerous players, notably Brodie Croft, and we will need to be at our best.

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Looking forward to the game and another sizable Warriors following.

Stephen Ford

I fully anticipated a loss versus Castleford, and when they strolled into a 12 point lead after 20 minutes or so I feared that a real good hiding was on the cards.

Unusually for me, I was quite relaxed if another league defeat was underway because I was glad that the players had really celebrated after the Challenge Cup win.

A try just before the break gave me a glimmer of hope but I was resigned to a defeat. I was disappointed with another display of poor discipline and conceding needless penalties but I was actually grateful that the gap at half time was only eight points.

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I am a horse racing fan so I was watching the horse racing on my phone whilst I had the rugby on my ipad and at one point I did consider to stop watching the match and concentrate on the racing instead.

Thankfully, I didn’t.

The display in the second half was night and day to a very lacklustre first half.

It was obvious from the opening set in the second half that we were going to perform much better and when we got the ball it looked like we could score from any part of the pitch. French looked much fitter and he looked like he was having the time of his life playing at fullback for the first time this season.

It’s difficult to highlight which players played well in the second half as they all contributed to a great performance but I was particularly pleased for Partington and Miski who both had very solid performances.

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We are still some way off being a top class team but to see the continuous improvement is really satisfying after the awful Lam period.

So far we haven’t given an 80 minute display by either playing inconsistently throughout the games or only turning up for the second half as per the Castleford performance.

At some point we will deliver an 80 minute performance, and when we do somebody is going to get an awful beating.

I’ve had a soft spot for Salford since their great teams of the late 60s and early 70s, so I usually look forward to playing them and this Friday will be no exception.

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I thought that our Super League home win against them earlier this season was our best home win so far, because Salford played particularly well and until Field’s full length of the field winner in the dying minutes it was anyone’s game.

It will be interesting to see who will be dropped from the Castleford 17, assuming that Bateman returns on Friday.

I’m hearing that Thornley is out for 6 weeks therefore, I hope Halsall is recalled from Newcastle rather than using Bateman, Farrell or Isa as an emergency centre, but I’ve got a feeling that this will not be the case.

I was not surprised that Salford lost at Hull KR last week, but I was genuinely amazed at the size of the defeat as they had been playing well prior to the match.

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I expect Salford will look to address their poor performance but I still think that we will win but I suspect that the difference between the two teams will not be higher than six points.

Once again looking forward to the game and I hope that we get a good start which seems to have eluded us in the last three games and we reduce the number of errors.

Darren Wrudd

I am not quite sure what was discussed at half time last week, but I hope Matty Peet recorded it, as what a difference the second 40 minutes were.

First half errors and poor defensive structures in the line left us vulnerable time after time and I was surprised the Tigers only led by twelve at the break.

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We did hold on and came out like a refreshed and rejuvenated side, full of energy and intent, Castleford did not stand a chance.

Playing with a smile on our faces, we were obviously having fun.

Plays were just working and passes were sticking while our defensive attitude was spot on and eager.

A most pleasing reaction to the cup win as it would have been easy to blame a hangover, as it was easy to blame the previous two losses on the up and coming final, but we are back on track.

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It was great to see Sam Powell back on the field and with Cade Cust on the sidelines for a while we need that extra depth to our mid field.

I felt that Jai Field was somewhat under the radar in all respects at halfback and seemed to do an awful lot more tackling than he usually does, keeping him out of the attacking line rather than slotting him in the middle, but if he remains there I feel he will adapt quickly. Harry Smith is quickly becoming the centre of attention in the halves though.

He is taking his chance by the horns and making a darn good go of it.

The improvement in his overall game is astonishing and he looks every bit the first choice half.

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Although Marshall seems to want in on the action with his deft little grubber through for French, high quality twinkle toes or what.

This week of course we travel to our near neighbours Salford.

Paul Rowley has his squad playing well in games against us. We turned their form around for them earlier this year as they obviously get up for a game against the Warriors and they have some players of the highest calibre, capable of causing real problems.

We can’t allow them to work into this game as they can put scores on for fun and although they have had a poor result last week, don’t be fooled as they could cut us up if we are not switched on and this week there are no excuses.

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We need this win, it is important, not for the two points but to show how we are mentally tough and prepared for the run into the end of year playoff campaign.

So I expect us to pick up where we left off and stick it to them with a cherry on top.

Jon Lyon

I don’t know if Liam Marshall has had better weeks in his life, but I can’t think of one. Following up his cup final heroics, another two tries and an assist capped off a magical 8 days for him.

This was an outstanding win for Wigan.

To go 12-0 down, in an always tough away day at Cas, and score 32 unanswered points was incredible.

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I suspect if I had put away the amount of beer some of these lads had in the previous week, I’d barely be capable of tying my laces, let alone dominating a rugby match.

To a man we were outstanding, Bibby and French were involved in everything, and Liam Farrell is putting his name forward as the best centre in the league as well as the best second rower.

It was good to see Sam Powell back, although Brad O’Neill has done very well in his absence, while Havard and Partington in particular looked hungry for work.

It’s great to see us throw the ball about and score some tries that are very easy on the eye. Miski deservedly got over the line with one of them, and he’s looking better with every performance.

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Defence won us the game though, with some great goal line efforts and some last ditch try saving tackles keeping Cas out in the second half.

The one downside was another injury to the luckless Thornley. Hopefully this will open the door to Sam Halsall, who has looked solid every time he has pulled on the shirt.

Looking ahead to the trip to Salford, I’m expecting a very tough game. Salford always up their game against us, and it probably hasn’t helped our cause Hull KR thrashing them last week as their fans will be after a big reaction from their team.

As always, if we turn up and can start the game well, we should have enough talent and fitness to come away with the win, but that’s a big if.

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I was very unhappy with the one sided penalty count and six again count against us against Castleford, I don’t doubt each individual decision was correct but it does seem we’re being penalised for things that the opposition aren’t.

I’m sure if you look across the defensive line at every play of the ball in a match someone is offside, so why are we penalised for offsides far more than our opponents?

If we get a fair crack of the whip then we should have enough in our locker.

If fit, I expect Tommy Leuluai to come back into the team, which should see Jai Field return to fullback, although Bevan certainly played well in his preferred position last week, so Matty Peet has some very tough decisions to make, but he will be glad to have so many options.

I’m expecting the last two weeks to catch up with us a bit, but we’ll still have enough for a close win, 20-16.