Wigan Warriors’ dominant display over Hull KR sets Super League Grand Final gameplan

WIGAN WARRIORS will face off against the Catalans Dragons on Saturday following a dominant victory over Hull KR on Saturday. 

From the moment Matty Peet’s men took the field, you could sense it was going to be one of those days for Hull KR, as Wigan snatched the game from their opponents’ grasp from the opening whistle. 

Rugby League is a game of momentum and when it’s on your side everything falls into place. 

The ball movement is crisp, the passes are sticking and it feels as though your side is playing in sixth-gear while your opposition is stuck in neutral. 

Unfortunately for Willie Peters’ men, they copped the brunt of Wigan’s well-oiled machine, but they can hold their heads high for achieving what they have this season.

There is no denying they have built a solid foundation at the club going forward and you would assume they will remain a contender for years to come. 

But three tries in eleven minutes is hard to come back from and credit to Hull KR, they hung in there and did eventually hit back with a try of their own in the 22nd minute through Elliot Minchella. 

After Wigan had dominated possession in the first half, Willie Peters must have been thankful the scoreline was only 18-6 at the break. 

Peters’ side was still in the fight and they desperately needed to score first in the second half to wrestle back the momentum.  

But it wasn’t to be, as Wigan picked back up where they left off and ran up the scoreboard.

It was evident in the second half just how fresh Wigan looked after enjoying a week off.

In games with big scorelines, the ball is out of play for long periods due to the stoppages caused by the sheer amount of tries scored in the match. 

It takes away the burden of being under the constant duress that a tight match-up brings and Wigan must now be feeling quite rejuvenated heading into the Grand Final.

It’s a vastly different story for their opposition. 

Catalans endured a low scoring game against a bruising St Helens defensive line that came down to the wire.

Steve McNamara’s men exerted a lot of energy against the Saints and it could go against them heading into Old Trafford against a side that plays an attacking brand of football. 

Saints attack over the weekend was largely one-dimensional, their fifth-tackle options were poor and at times their attacking shape looked out of sync and predictable. 

Catalans need to lift their defensive intensity if they want to match it with Wigan.

Unlike St Helens, the Wigan spine is a force to be reckoned with. 

Jai Field was outstanding on Saturday with speed you can’t defend. 

Bevan French rarely takes the wrong option; his pinpoint kick to Liam Marshall over the weekend was a thing of beauty.

Harry Smith is the general that steers this side around and his play allows French and Field to play so elusively. 

So how do Catalans stop them? 

They need to go back and watch how the Leigh Leopards defended against Wigan two weeks ago. 

It was a tremendous effort from Leigh to keep Wigan to ten points in what was considered a controversial win.

They have to put Smith and French under duress with their line-speed and there has to be pressure from the inside man in the defensive line. 

They need to kick to Liam Marshall or Abbas Miski and keep the ball away from Jai Field, who thrives when attacking against a staggered defensive line.

He likes to drift across the field with the ball in hand searching for gaps in the defensive line and he often finds players napping and takes advantage with his speed. 

The Dragons need to maintain their line and not get lazy when Wigan’s attack cuts back on the inside.

Wigan, on the other hand, need to replicate the attacking brand of football they displayed on Saturday. 

A fast start could be crucial to the outcome of the game, as it was on Saturday. If Wigan can once again complete their first five sets and manage to get an early try on the board, then they will surely go a long way to winning the trophy.

Watch out for them using the width of the field to tire out some of the Dragons’ middles and then starting to target those middles with some late offloads.

It’s set to be a great match-up with a great storyline, with Sam Tomkins looking to go out with a victory over his old club.

*JAKE KEARNAN presents the League Express Podcast each week with editor MARTYN SADLER