My 3rd of 5 games for the weekend took me to Wigan to watch part 2 of the World Club Series.  Having been to Central Park a couple of times now I’m chuffed to say I can get to and away from the stadium via a traffic missing shortcut!  Always good to miss the queue!

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The parking situation wasn’t terribly clear, but that wasn’t too much of a problem with plenty of time to spare.  I parked in the paid car park for £5 which felt pretty reasonable.

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I met a Twitter friend Kate before the game which was lovely having spoken to her for a good few years now.  She’s not only a Wigan fan, but also a Saracens fan.

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My shoes came to the attention of one of her fellow Wigan fans who was a bit worse for wear, he added a lot of laughter to proceedings – always a good thing!

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We parted our ways and headed to our seats, I had a wonderful seat again!  Virtually on the halfway line and all for just £25!  I was sat between 2 Wigan fans, one of which had been supporting them for over 50 years!

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The more I learn about Wigan Warriors the more I understand the importance of the club in the town.  I’d say nice a Wigan man (woman) aways a Wigan man, it was great to see some ex players on the pitch, especially Mick Cassidy and Shaun Edwards.

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We’d been treated to a brass band in the build up, they played a couple of songs which for me would be far better anthems for us, Jerusalem in particular.  The teams arrived to much fanfare and 2 of the top teams in the world faced each other for the 2nd ‘friendly’ of the weekend.

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The atmosphere in the ground was pretty amazing, a crowd of 20,842 makes a lot noise, there clearly were some Broncos fans in the place but they were hugely outnumbered.

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Matty Bowen started the game, he was kicking to a team of NRL stars including one of the most recognisable men in rugby league – Sam Thaiday.  It was quite a thrill to see him up close!  He looked a tad chilly to say the least.

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The first try was scored by Brisbane after Joe Burgess, heading to NRL after this season, lost the ball in the tackle on his own line after he failed to take a high bomb cleanly.  Andrew McCullough needed no invitation to touch the ball down.

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An easy try for the visitors also produced an easy 2 points for Corey Parker. a gifted lead of 6 points and lots of derision for Burgess, he may have a hard season ahead of him.

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In common with the Warrington game this ‘friendly’ soon had an edge, as the teams exchanged a few handbags and got better acquainted.  A father and son were sitting behind me and one of them yelled out – ‘Let’s have a fight, because the rugby’s rubbish!’ – Not really the case, but the aggro certainly added to the atmosphere and grit!

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Wigan were next on the scoreboard as Liam Farrell ran onto a George Williams grubber kick – it looked a blatant try from the stands – an age after it was scored the TMO and Mr Bentham agreed!  Matty Smith scored the conversion – the comment from behind?  ‘I could back heel that over!’

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There were 2 notable events before half time – a penalty was awarded in the scrum – which is almost unheard of!  And we had another of those high shots!  Corey Parker became the focus of a lot of Wigan attention as the perpetrator, but again, no card!  Perhaps high shots are allowed now?  I think not!

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Wigan defended a strong attack from the Broncos and the teams went in at 6 apiece at half time.

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The 2nd half saw Joe Burgess drop the ball again – and again I have to go to the comment from behind – I imagine on a weekly basis these guys would drive you mad, but ooh they made me laugh! “Put a bell inside the ball so he knows where it is!”

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Having defended 2 sets in the 1st half Wigan couldn’t do the same when battered in the 2nd – Broncos put in a string of quick fire passes to see Lachlan Maranta score in the corner.  That left a hard kick for Parker, he failed to add the 2 points.

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However poor discipline by Wigan close to their own posts gave Parker an easy penalty to score the missed 2 points.  Anthony Milford made a superb run up the middle of the field, and that was noted as my best moment of the game until Joe Burgess intervened again.

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Burgess showed his true skill as a winger, he ran virtually the length of the pitch, passing inside to George Wiliams before taking the ball back, he ran in to score, moving closer to the posts to give Smith an easier kick.  He suddenly turned from zero to hero!

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Matty Smith scored with 17 seconds remaining on the clock the scores were even on 12 apiece!  Now that felt like a fair result, although Broncos had probably edged it on the night.  However extra time was the plan.

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My notes say that we had a spell of – rubbish drop goal attempts!  I actually think I could have made a better effort with one of them, with heels on!  However the game was to be decided by an error.  It looked like a high tackle in the ground  but seems Wigan were penalised for a ball steal right in front of their posts.

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Corey Parker lined up the kick, his 1st attempt was charged down by Anthony Gelling, who was shown yellow of this troubles.  The 2nd attempt sailed over and the game finished with something of an anti-climax.  Wigan Warriors 12 Brisbane Broncos 14.

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As well as being thrilled to watch Sam Thaiday play it was also wonderful to see both Dan Sarginson and Tony Clubb on the big stage.  2 Southern lads plying their trade in Wigan.

A few facts and figures

  • Cost of Ticket                  £25.00
  • Cost of Parking               £  5.00
  • Pint of Budweiser           £  3.40
  • Pint of Rovers Bitter      £  3.20
  • Lager 330ml                    £  3.40
  • Wine                                  £  4.00
  • Kingstone Press Cider   £  3.50
  • Meat & Potato Pie          £  3.00
  • Steak Pie                          £  3.00
  • Cheeseburger                 £  3.80
  • Water                               £  1.80
  • Soft Drinks                     £   2.20

I have to say it’s very unusual to be disturbed at a rugby league game, but I must have been sitting in tho only row where a young couple kept getting up and down. A weekly occurrence according to my neighbour

  • Ladies toilets – clean, plenty of them, soap and a way to dry your hands.
  • Safety – not an issue at all, surrounded by families and very friendly people
  • Nicest moment of the day – chatting to lifelong Wigan fans
  • Best moment of the game – without a doubt the Joe Burgess try – it was great!

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