Wigan Can Benefit From Fresh Start


Eye On Rugby League by Tony Williams

The biggest story in rugby league so far this week is the sacking of Wigan head coach Ian Millward. The Warriors have suffered a disastrous start to the 2006 campaign, losing seven of their opening eight games in the engage Super League, and being stuck to the foot of the league table.

The dismissal of Millward came just days before Wigan's derby clash with St Helens on Good Friday, a game which many Saints fans were expecting to cut loose and pour more misery on their rivals from the JJB Stadium. And, in my opinion, the timing from the Wigan board was just right, coming at a crucial moment in the season.

When a club rids itself of its head coach, there is often a backlash that follows. You will often see a change on the pitch, as the players find new form and really get stuck into the game. A recent example is Hull's game against Leeds following the dismissal of John Kear. Hull found the form that had been lacking all season, and were unlucky not to take anything from the game.

I can see a similar situation on Good Friday. The Warriors will make a game of it, although they will most probably still lose out to a talented St Helens outfit. This will probably be followed by a win over Harlequins on Easter Monday. Taking a win and a convincing effort at Knowsley Road out of this bumper weekend will be vital in kick-starting Wigan's season.

In my view, if they had kept Millward until after the weekend they would have capitulated at Saints and gone on to lose against Harlequins. That could have damaged their season irreparably. But now, with a fresh start, Wigan have the opportunity to get some wins and climb up the table.

Super League Produces The Goods

Two weeks ago I said how disappointing the Super League games on Sky had been. The games in question were Hull's 46-0 defeat to of St Helens and Harlequins 60-0 beating at the hands of Leeds Rhinos. Except if you support Saints or Leeds the entertainment value of these games was virtually non-existent.

This weekend however, Super League TV games came back with a bang, starting, ironically enough, with Hull and Leeds at the KC Stadium. Judging on the performances of a fortnight previous, you would expect the Rhinos to have walked that particular game, yet it was one of the best matches in Super League so far this season.

The two teams went all out for the victory in this game, and the quality of the tries scored was exemplary – especially considering how solid the defensive efforts from both sides were. Both sides did themselves credit, but in the end it was Leeds who went on to claim a hrd-fought victory.

The Saturday night game between Bradford Bulls and Warrington Wolves was just as entertaining and close-fought, the match ending in a narrow 22-18 upset for the Wolves. It showed that on their day any team is capable of beating any other.

If the games over the Easter weekend are of a similar quality, then we should enjoy every minute of them.

‘Try-Track' Is A Farce

Anyone who watches Sky's rugby league coverage can't have failed to notice the new method of replaying tries known as ‘try-track'. This computer generated diagram accurately charts the way in which tries have been scored. In theory.

In actual fact the ‘try-track' diagram plots the site of each play the ball, penalty and try scored and joins up the dots. Of course, the lines drawn bear no relation to where the ball has actually travelled.

Take Harlequins' game against Leeds for example. The Rhinos scored their first half tries from their own half of the field, working the ball out to the wings, making a break, drawing the full back, before passing the ball back inside to touch down beneath the posts.

Of course ‘try-track' recorded each try as one line from the Leeds forty metre line to the Quins try line, completely ignoring the excellent passing and movement from the Leeds players. As if that was no bad enough, Phil Clark observed the diagram and told the viewers that Leeds had been scoring tries by running down the middle.

What is the point of a diagram that does not accurately represent the direction that the ball ahs taken? I would not be sorry to see the back of this farce of a graphic. 

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