I love a big match. Last week it was my own team when surprisingly the pre-match nerves did not begin until about twenty minutes before kick off.
This week I’ll be at another crunch clash when Warrington meet Wigan at the Carnegie Challenge Cup Quarter Final stage for the sixth time in RL’s premier knock-out trophy.
It would be fair to say this game is pretty mouthwatering and if there were any more stars out there people would start mistaking me for Patrick Moore!
As I did last week let’s have a look at some of the stats and see how they stack up.
Wigan are the top side in Super League currently and are unbeaten in their last seven matches which includes a 22-all draw against Castleford.
During that run, the Warriors have amassed 238 points at an average of 34 points a game and conceded just 96. It is that defensive steel that could well give Wigan an edge but the last time these teams met was back in March when Warrington’s own defence won the day.
Top tries for Wigan have been scored by Sam Tomkins (21), Pat Richards (17), Josh Charnley (16), George Carmont (13), Thomas Leuluai (10) and Ryan Hoffman (8).
Although Hoffman is heading back to Australia at the season’s end, he has proven to be one of the best signings in Super League and is a superb competitor, and a player that hates losing.
Once again Pat Richards has risen to the top of the goal-kicking charts at Wigan, this despite missing the first few weeks of the season. His dead-eye accurate boot has added 84 goals this term and last week he landed 8 from 8 in a 48-6 win over Wakefield.
Warrington too have one of the best kickers in Super League with Brett Hodgson having landed 114 goals in a busy campaign to date. I have to admit, I raised an eyebrow when the Wolves signed a 30-plus year old Australian from Huddersfield, but Hodgson has been magnificent, instilling confidence at the back, rarely putting a foot wrong and linking attack dangerously. So much for me knowing about Rugby League?
The Wolves themselves haven’t lost a game since slipping up at home against Salford on the 12th June and are the most dangerous attacking team in Super League. Of course this is the cup where league form has little bearing and if we look at this competition then Warrington are definitely the team to beat having lifted the famous trophy for the last two years, a trophy incidently that took up residence at Wigan’s old Central Park ground for seven years straight in the late 1980s through to the mid 1990s.
Top tries for Warrington have come via Joel Monaghan (21), Lee Briers (19), Ryan Atkins (16), Richie Myler (15), Hodgson (15), Chris Bridge (14) and Matt King (13) who like Hoffman is returning to the NRL at the end of the campaign.
In addition to Hodgson, goals have also come from Briers (31 + 2 Dg), Ben Westwood (3) and former Wigan hooker Mick Higham (1).
There will be a sell out crowd, a fantastic atmosphere and let the best team win through!