Five things we learned from Wigan’s 25-10 victory against Wakefield...
1. Rugby league players are often lauded for their bravery, but Dan Sarginson earned a different level of respect by asking to play just days after the death of his younger brother.
“Toughest bloke ever,” tweeted Joe Burgess, a sentiment shared by many.
The players huddled during an impeccably observed minute’s silence, before a roar of support from the stands for Sarginson. Shaun Wane dedicated the win to Sarginson’s tragic brother, Adam.
2. There is unlikely to ever be a way of picking a man of the match which pleases everyone, but the current system needs tackling.
It isn’t a Sky Sports initiative, but rather one from the RFL to push their – quite handy, I must say – OurLeague app. An anonymous legend selects a shortlist of four and people vote, X Factor-style. It sounds good in theory, but we’ve seen some baffling selections and Thursday night’s picks - Tyler Randell, Jacob Miller, Oliver Gildart and Sam Powell - raised several eyebrows.
Randell, who motored through 80 minutes, was one of Wakefield’s best, but surely Joe Greenwood deserved a place. And what about Gabe Hamlin? He carried the ball back at full charge, seemingly unaware of the big opponents ready to whack him! Outstanding effort.
At the very least, perhaps unmask the anonymous legend, so we know who makes the picks.
3. What’s the saying about the Lord Mayor’s Show?
This was a stale game lacking energy and atmosphere. Shaun Wane’s outfit were ahead from the second minute and always looked in control, but only when Trinity cut the gap to three points did the excitement-levels raise a notch.
Still, not all games can be epics, and the win – Wigan’s fifth in a row – tightened their grip on second spot, and a home semi-final with it.
4. The attendance of 9,559 was Wigan’s first below 10,000 since 2005.
The presence of the Sky Sports cameras and the Thursday night slot - when children were back at school - were presumably factors.
But even so, it will no doubt feed Ian Lenagan’s desire to ditch the Super-8s format, which he blames for the receding crowds. An EGM next Friday will determine the structure of next year’s Super League.
Until this fixtures, all but three home matches have been in the 10,000-11,000 bracket. The exceptions? Fixtures with St Helens (16,047), Warrington (13,249)... and the ‘home’ clash with Hull FC which was taken to Australia and drew a crowd of (12,416)!
5. Dom Manfredi was kept on ice, with Oliver Gildart starting on the left wing before Morgan Escare took over.
Gildart then switched to right centre, taking over from forward Willie Isa.
There is a confidence with Wigan as they enter the home-straight, but it will be interesting to see what Wane does with his outside backs selection.
Because with left wingers Joe Burgess and Liam Marshall - and right centre Chris Hankinson - sidelined through injury, his backline options (based on strongest, preferred positions) consists of: two full-backs, two left centres and two right wingers.
Who plays out of position?