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The Big Sleep
Posted by southstander on July 25 2009 - 00:11:40

Opener

Wigan had spent the last few weeks building tonights game up as the 'Big One', and in terms of crowds it was as, over twenty thousand took advantage of the reduced ticket prices to break the Superleague record for this fixture.

Bluey suggested that there was no 'Big One' about it and that this was just a game for two points. But a win for the Rhinos would have seen them top the league for the first time since Easter, so the travelling Rhinos support did give some credance to Wigans claims.

All we needed was to do the business on the field.

We bring you all of the action here......

10

Rhinos

v

Warriors

28

Superleague XIV

Round 22

24th July 2009

The Big Sleep

Leeds were without Brent Webb who had failed a fitness test earlier in the day. Sinfield and Donald did return and Mike Ratu got his first Rhinos start, but this good news was tempered by the sight of Buderus undertaking a late fitness test and then getting running treatment during the warm up. Looking down the Leeds side we had far too much class for an injury and suspension struck Wigan side full of youth with a big dollop of experience.

Wigan had a game plan, that was obvious from the start. It was to absorb Leeds pressure and try and hit us on the counter and for the opening twenty minutes it worked brilliantly. Wave after wave of Rhinos attack was thwarted either due to good defence or due to Rhinos panic and dropped ball (Senior being the biggest culprit).

Then on twenty, like it had been threatening, the Wigan defence broke. Buderus found a gap from acting half, found Burrow who drew the defender and passed inside to McGuire to cross under the sticks unopposed. Sinfields goal gave us a 6-0 lead and it was no more than we deserved.

Four minutes later and you felt that we'd really stepped up a gear as a brilliant Ratu weaving break got us close to the line and forced a Wigan dropout under the sticks. From the return we moved the ball close before McGuire and Ratu combined with fast hands to put Scott Donald over in the corner. Sinfield missed with the conversion attempt but it barely seemed to matter. We had turned domination into a healthy lead and now all we had to do was keep focussed and start running in the points against a visibly tiring Wigan defence.


Unfit?

Another few minutes of pressure from the Rhinos was fruitless but then, in an instant is was as though someone removed the Rhinos batteries. Wigan saw their opportunity, and struck.

On thirty-six Carmont found himself with the ball five metres short with just Lee Smith to beat. He swatted him out of the way like a fly and crashed over for Wigans opener. Richards added the extras for 10-6, the scoreline that would see the sides into the half-time break.

The feeling in the North Stand was that we were in the lead, we'd let them in for a soft try, but that Bluey would get them re-grouped for the second half and we'd push on to the top of the league.

One minute into the second half and the half-time optimism lay in tatters.

As Carmont went for the Leeds line he appeared to drop the ball which was hacked on by Tomkins and touched down by Hansen. We expected a Leeds scrum but just to be sure Bentham went to Ian Smith in the video booth. He replayed the dropped ball over and over and then went to the grounding. TRY...the screen declared. WHAT! shouted the North Stand as the rest of the ground giggled embarrassingly at their good fortune. Richards added the two and the home side had the lead in their Big One.

Wigan were filled with confidence and stepped up a gear, the Rhinos lagging well behind as if in a trance, falling off tackles and leaving massive gaps.

On fifty-seven Wigan got their third set on the Rhinos line after two stupid penalties caused by indiscipline. On the third tackle of this third set Joel Tomkins went over in the corner and Richards goaled the conversion. Now it was 10-18 and looking a bit more dicey. But hey, we're the comeback kings!


Ouch!
On sixty-six, disaster. Buderus went to kick a loose ball and something snapped. He went to ground in agony and was stretchered off. I understand that early evaluation is that it is not a break but ligament damage could be worse.

With Leeds now in even more disarray Wigan scored the try of the game with a great flowing move down the middle of the field finished off by Sam Tomkins under the sticks. Richards made it 10-24 with the boot and the game was slipping.

After recent weeks you still harboured a hope that we'd get back into it but three converted tries in eight minutes was perhaps a bit too much to expect.

The lads realised that this was one step too far and niggles saw us give away penalties on seventy-four and seventy-six, both of which Richards goaled and as the clock ran down to zero we'd lost 10-28 to a side who had outplayed us for fifty-five of the eighty.

There will have been few Rhinos players who will have been happy with their nights work. Ratu had an okay game at centre and Rob Burrow ran himself to a standstill but it was too little for Leeds. Sinfield didn't look fit or right, Senior had one of his frequent off days (he is either superb or useless with no in-between) and the pack were outmuscled.

We bossed the game for twenty-five and looked like we might amass a cricket score, but for the remaining fifty-five we just nodded off and let a very mediocre side look like world beaters. This outcome has been coming for a couple of weeks when we've been winning without firing on all cylinders. Tonight we got found out, in a big way, and the rest of Superleague will look to play the Wigan way and stop us collecting any more points.

All in all a very disappointing night.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Buderus72%
8
Burrow17%
5
McGuire6%
5
Ratu6%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Warriors
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
3
Smith
21
Phelps
2
Donald
1
2
Amos
29
Ratu
22
Gleeson
4
Senior
4
Carmont
1
5
Hall
5
Richards
6
6
McGuire
1
25
Tomkins, S.
1
7
Burrow
7
Leuluai
8
Leuleui
15
Coley
9
Buderus
9
Riddell
10
Peacock
19
Prescott
11
Jones-Buchanan
14
Tomkins, J.
1
18
Ablett
16
Hansen
1
13
Sinfield
1
26
Flanagan
14
Diskin
3
Goulding
19
Burgess
8
Fielden
12
Lauiti'iti
10
Paleaaesina
21
Worrall
24
Mossop

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
10-06
Referee:
Phil Bentham
Crowd:
20,295


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