Behind the Sticks - Playoffs Round 2

What a game last week. If anyone had followed my advice they may well have thrown their betting slip away after 50 minutes. But then came the greatest ever Super League come back in the last 12 years.

At 30-6 down who truly believed that Wigan could come back? Once Mark Calderwood scored his first try you could physically see the Warriors players lift and led superbly by Trent Barrett the come back was well and truly on.

Can they do it again this week? One thing is for sure they cant afford to give Hull FC a 24 points start with 30 minutes left. A huge crowd is expected at the KC Stadium with the Warriors being backed by a huge following from the JJB. For these two teams its do or die again in week 2 of the engage Super League play-offs. Both teams know that defeat would spell the end of their 2007 season.

Both teams have had a rollercoaster year. Wigan’s problems have been well documented but Hull started the season as everyone’s tips to be serious Grand Final challengers again after their fabulous march to the final in 2006. Their season however couldn’t of started any worse. Mid season FC where only a couple of points off being relegation candidates but a run of 7 wins in their last 8 fixtures meant a fourth placed finish.

The signing of Australian Matthew Head half way through the season signalled Hull’s resurgence, this is when FC finally came to terms with the early season loss of talisman Paul Cooke to arch rivals Hull Kingston Rovers. The emergence of Tommy Lee at hooker and an excellent solid season by Danny Tickle also meant that FC where once again a force to be reckoned with.

Wigan are no pushovers though in 2007 a real Jekle and Hyde team who continue to confuse just about every rugby league tipster. Without continually repeating myself though Wigan truly do have the best player in Super League XII in the shape of Trent Barrett.

They aren’t all a one-man team though. Pace on the wing with Mark Calderwood, astute kicking from Thomas Leuluai and great pack performances by O’Loughlin and Fletcher certainly give Wigan great go forward. In Pat Richards Wigan have the most improved player in 2007. Not much has been mentioned about Richards kicking last week but a number of touchline conversation and ultimately his drop goal gave Wigan victory.

I go for Pat to lead the way again this week and score the first try in this game. Roared on by a huge army of travelling supporters I expect this game to be another classic played in front of the Sky TV cameras. Will it be another one point victory? It may well be, I think it will be close that’s for sure.

I take Wigan to pull off another memorable victory and quite possibly head off to face Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Stadium next week in a play-off decider. Wigan can’t reach Old Trafford from sixth surely not???

Winning Margin Wigan to beat Hull FC by 6-10 points

1st Try Scorer Pat Richards


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