Five things from Wigan’s 19-19 draw at Huddersfield...
1. And so Wigan’s winless run in the league goes on.
It is now eight matches without a victory - their worst sequence in the league since 1903 - though obviously that run featured two draws and two Challenge Cup wins.
Remarkably, these two sides drew at the DW earlier this year - the first time Wigan have drawn against a side, home and away, since 2004.
And the result stretched Wigan’s run to nine games against the Giants without defeat.
Thomas Leuluai had a chance to clinch a victory late on but he snapped a drop-goal attempt wide; Danny Brough, at the other end, sliced an attempt under heavy pressure from Willie Isa. Shaun Wane wasn’t happy to concede a draw was a fair result but, on reflection, he was right; neither did enough - for long enough - to win, neither really deserved to lose.
2. Was the result damaging? Possibly. Were Wigan patchy? Absolutely. But it was still hugely-entertaining!
There was little wrestle - either out of choice, or from the way referee Gareth Hewer policed the ruck - and the quick play-the-balls led to an open, quick and end-to-end game. Handling was better than it had any right to be in the drizzly conditions.
Wigan’s slow start hurt them. They were 13-0 down inside 25 minutes and while Huddersfield deserved their lead at that stage, both tries were soft from the Warriors’ perspective. Joe Burgess, not his potent best at centre, was too hesitant in allowing Lee Gaskell to beat him to a ball.
But they roared into life, poked in front, then fell behind, then George Williams levelled, and then both sides kept fans on the edge of their seats until the final whistle.
3. Liam Marshall scored tries either side of half-time to take his tally to an incredible 22 in 19 matches.
Impressive figures for a young man who was training to be an accountant at this stage last year. Marshall’s first was a spectacular dive onto a George Williams grubber and his second a composed finish to a crisp attack down the left involving Williams and Sam Tomkins.
The No.35 on his back is a reminder of where Liam Marshall started the season in the pecking order. The success story of the season? Elsewhere, John Bateman and Sam Tomkins - who made comebacks the week earlier - were again impressive.
4. A word on Huddersfield.
Not long ago, they were languishing in the bottom-four, but Rick Stone has transformed their fortunes. Livewire fullback Jake Mamo was missing but they still had enough quality in their side. Danny Brough’s pinpoint kicking caused problems, and earned repeat sets, all night, even though Tomkins dealt with the aerial bombardment. And, in the three-quarters, Leroy Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary are two strong ball-carrying backs.
5. So, where does this leave Wigan?
Well, pretty much in exactly the same spot. They’re still level on points with Huddersfield, still behind them because of for-and-against, still seven points off the top-four... and a point further clear of Catalans and Warrington, who meet today. There are four rounds to go before the Super-8s split; some Wigan fans may take comfort from the fact three of their four games are at home, and three of their four opponents are below them in the ladder. Win them all, and they should enter the Super-8s in a solid position and full of confidence; but if their winless run continues, they risk slipping into the bottom-four, and a fight for their top-flight survival through the Qualifiers (middle-8s). It’s about to get very interesting.
Next up is a home game with Widnes, finally, next Sunday.