Wigan draw first home league blank for 30 years in limp defeat to Leeds Rhinos
Sometimes, the statistics speak entirely for themselves. Wigan Warriors are one of rugby league’s most famous and successful clubs but there is no doubting that at present this proud sporting institution are simply not at the races – and they are now on the brink of dropping out of Super League’s play-off places altogether.
For the first time since 1991, Wigan have failed to score at home. They have gone over 200 minutes without scoring a try. The Warriors have not failed to score a try at home in consecutive games for almost 60 years, dating back to 1965. Given the lofty standards Wigan have created for themselves throughout rugby league history, those numbers scream more about their current plight than this result or performance ever could.
Not that it wasn’t dismal in its own right, though. It’s rare that a 12-point lead in Super League with half an hour remaining is seen as enough. But when Richie Myler scored for Leeds at the start of the second half off the back of Brad Dwyer’s earlier try before half-time, it simply seemed implausible that Adrian Lam’s side could muster a fightback. In the end, they couldn’t even muster a point, despite Leeds playing 20 minutes with 12 men after Zane Tetevano and Luke Briscoe were sent to the sin-bin in the first half.
Where all of that leaves Lam is intriguing. Off-contract at the end of the season, the chances of him remaining in 2022 appear to be dwindling alongside Wigan’s title hopes. “The whole group are down on confidence,” Lam said, before promising he has arrived at a point where he will drop some of his under-performing players. “We look like a rudderless ship.”
There wasn’t even really the need for Rhyse Martin to add a penalty to his two conversions to make it 14-0, but it added an extra layer of security to a result which is just as significant for Leeds. They remain without a host of senior players, and named a different half-back pairing for the 13th consecutive game here. But they are back in the top six and an increasingly good bet to make the play-offs.
“We had to overcome some adversity with those yellow cards,” Richard Agar said. “But to keep any team to nil, let alone Wigan, on their home ground is a magnificent effort.” He is certainly right. But as Leeds rise up the table, you wonder how much longer the Warriors can hold on to their position in the play-offs.
Wigan Warriors Field; Bibby, Hardaker, Gildart, Marshall; Hastings, Smith; Singleton, Shorrocks, Partington, Farrell, Bateman, Smithies. Interchange Bourouh, Byrne, Havard, Pearce-Paul.
Leeds Rhinos Myler; L Briscoe, Newman, T Briscoe, Handley; Lui, Lemming; Thompson, Dwyer, Prior, Gannon, Martin, Tetevano. Interchange Vuniyayawa, Donaldson, Holroyd, Smith. Tries Dwyer, Myler Cons Martin (2) Pen Martin Referee R Hicks