Five things we learned from Wigan’s 19-18 defeat at Castleford...
1. Wigan have often improved in the second-half of matches this season.
Not this time.
Leading 12-4 at the break, they faded as the depleted hosts showed their mettle to run in 14 points without reply. In hindsight, they will lament the missed-chances in the opening half - and their failure to turn their earlier dominance into points.
Tom Davies’ converted try locked the scores and set-up a nerve-shredding finish. Which makes you think...
2. This would have been a great spectacle for the neutrals.
The match lacked quality at times - little surprise, given the collective 18 front-line absentees - and it wasn’t one for the three-quarters.
But Liam Marshall’s solo try was superb, the exchanges were physical and the seesawing scoreline and frantic finish made for compelling viewing. Both sides failed with drop-goal attempts - and Sam Tomkins was hauled back for obstruction on his way to a potentially match-winning try - before Jamie Ellis settled it in the final minute.
3. Tries aside, there were some bone-jarring challenges.
“Note to self: Don’t ever run at Thomas Leuluai again,” tweeted Cas’ James Clare.
Gabriel ‘The Hammer’ Hamlin (let’s hope, for Super League’s sake, that nickname catches on!) was non-stop in the unfamiliar second-row spot and Romain Navarrete provided a lot of Wigan’s aggression - he has an edge to him which fans love or hate. And mentioning the forwards...
4. Liam Paisley made a strong debut in the second-row with some strong carries.
Not only that, but when Willie Isa moved to centre to cover for injured Dan Sarginson, it left Paisley with the rare distinction of being the only back-rower on the pitch playing in the back-row!
5. The outcome of this ‘catch-up’ game was quite significant.
It kept Wigan trailing leaders St Helens by six points while, looking over their shoulder, Cas’ moved up to third, just a point behind Shaun Wane’s outfit.
This block of seven games on the road - to allow for a new, hybrid pitch to be put down at the DW Stadium - has now ended, with Wigan winning three and losing four. They will be glad to return to the DW Stadium for the visit of Leeds on Thursday.