'Why Wigan Warriors may yet finish in second place' - comment
It wasn’t too long ago I was widely ridiculed for predicting Wigan would go on a winning streak and climb into the top-five.
But they did and they have.
And so, with that credit in the bank, I hope you don’t laugh when I make this prediction: Wigan could yet finish second.
Yes, I know, they are closer to seventh than second, but hear me out:
A home straight featuring four at the DW against Hull KR, out-of-sorts Warrington, Catalans and Castleford – with a trip to Wakefield sandwiched in the middle – is not particularly daunting.
And given the squad Adrian Lam has at his disposal, the competition within the ranks and the form they are in, they could easily win all of those matches.
Sure, there may be a blip, but I imagine the bookies will have the Warriors as favourites for all of those games.
So let’s, for a minute, imagine the bookies are right, and Wigan win their next five games.
Because of their superior points difference, they need one more win than Hull FC to move ahead of Lee Radford’s outfit into third.
Now, the Black and Whites don’t particularly have a grueling run-in – against Wakefield (a), Salford (h), Huddersfield (h), Castleford (a) and St Helens (h) – but will they win all five?
I’m going to say ‘no’. Salford and Cas’ look like tricky matches, while League Leaders’ Shield winners Saints won’t want to head into the play-offs, and a break in the opening weekend, on the back of a defeat.
So I’m predicting Wigan will nudge ahead of Hull FC before the end of the season.
Now, onto Warrington, who are four points clear of Wigan.
But if the Wolves lose to St Helens tonight, and Lam’s side win tomorrow, that gap is cut to two points.
And then they meet at the DW the following week – meaning the Warriors could draw level on points.
Now Warrington have a better points-difference than Wigan, which is unlikely to change over five weeks.
But keep in mind they have lost their last three league matches, been robbed of key figure Blake Austin through injury, and have a Challenge Cup Final to focus on.
And so if Wire lose tonight and Wigan win their last five matches, the Wolves would need to win their last three against Salford, Wakefield and away at Leeds to stay above Lam’s side.