By STEVE MASCORD
TWO-try Joel Monaghan said Super League was fine without golden point after Warrington and Wigan played out an epic draw on Friday night.
The worth of the NRL rule forcing tied games into overtime was called into question when Wigan’s Matty Smith and the Wolves’ Lee Briers exchanged field goals in the final eight minutes at DW Stadium after Warrington eschewed a penalty shot from almost in front with the scores 16-16.
Despite the absence of a winner, the game – played in front of 20,050 – was hailed as a spectacle.
“It probably ended up fitting – both teams had their chances,” said the former Australia winger. “A draw was probably fitting, it was a great crowd, a great spectacle and finished how it should.”
Coach Tony Smith added: “With the number of games we play over here, golden point would be just too big an ask.”
Monaghan’s tries, which saw him cross untouched in the corner after his inside men skilfully created the extra man, bookended scoring in the first half. Competition favourites Wigan seemed set to take control on several occasions, only for Wigan to surge back.
The best individual try of the round two contest came via a stepping, weaving run from Warrington half Richie Myler in the 42nd minute but once again, Shaun Wane’s side hit back when second rower Liam Farrell crossed.
Halfback Smith was bloodied and bandages when he landed the 30-metre field goal in the 72nd minute, with five-eighth Briers opting for the one point on the scoreboard and the competition table with three to go when his wobbly drop kick hit an upright and went through.
Coach Wane was proud of 19-year-old late inclusion Greg Burke and said: “I’m a little frustrated because I thought we could have done better … we were nowhere near our best – we put ourselves under pressure with the penalty count – but overall I’m fairly pleased with that.”
Smith commented: “There’s such long way to go. I’m not going to go home and kick the dog.”
WIGAN 17 (J Charnley I Thornley L Farrell tries P Richards 3 goals M Smith field goal) bt WARRINGTON 17 (J Monaghan 2 R Myler tries B Hodgson 3 goals L Briers field goal) at DW Stadium. Referee: P Bentham. Crowd: 20,050.
Fulltime: When David Anley, who was chatting over at whitelinefever.ning.com, said to me with 10 to go that Lee Briers would kick a field goal to tie up this epic at 17-17, I didn’s read much into it. But sure enough, Briers landed the one-pointer which must surely revive the question of whether we really need golden point in the NRL. This was a magnificent game without it. End-to-end attack, refereeing controversies, costly errors and a great atmosphere. And it was a draw. Is that a bad thing?
72 min: … or, it could be decided by a field goal. Matty Smith, bandaged and bloodied, lands it from in front and Wigan edge ahead. Hope fans are signing something pretty cool but I can’t understand what it is. 17-16.
66 mins: Finally poised now. We just had a Warrington players held without the ball, a couple of dust-ups and some errors. Sam Tomkins even shaped up to Brett Hodgson. Holding onto the pill seems to be a problem for both teams right now. This is gonna be decided by a try and I bet it’s a beauty! 16-16.
53 mins: We’re in for a doozy here. Liam Farrell touches down after Warrington are penalised for going on with a tackle. Did Bentham call ‘held’? Richards misses the conversion Strap yourselves in, it’s 16-16. PS: Wigan just tried to ‘Tallis’ Brett Hodgson!
45 mins: Magnificent individual try for Richie Myler, edging Warrington in front, then San Tomkins fumbles a bomb and somehow Wigan get the penalty. Anyone? 12-16
Halftime: A high tackle penalty gives Pat Richards the chance to edge Wigan in front, from in front, just before the break. Good, tight contest. 12-10.
37 min: Joel is in again after Josh Charnley fumbled a bomb. Quick hands to the right saw Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson handle in a simple extra-man play before Monaghan dotted down. No goal to Hodgson. 10-10.
31 min: Reflections at this point are that Warrington are extremely well drilled by error prone, while Wigan are making the most of their opportunities. They are slightly unlikely leaders, but still deserved leaders … if that makes any sense. Meanwhile, psyching up for halftime video chat. Join at whitelinefever.ning.com. 10-6.
25 min: I wouldn’t have tipped this. Wigan get a piggyback penalty and keep the ball alive (most credit goes to Liam Farrell there) before replacement Ben Flower straightens things up and plunged over. Richards goals and the home boys are in front! 10-6.
19 min: News has just come through that Hull-Bradford has been rescheduled for 3pm Sunday. In other news, Josh Charley scored an unconverted try in the opposite corner of the field to Joel Monaghan. Good game, this. 4-6.
10 min: And Joel Monaghan is in. The dogs are barking. Actually it’s the Warrington fans. Lovely ball to an unmarked Joel in the right corner. Brett Hodgson goals from the sideline. Across the Pennines, they are talking about rescheduling Hull-Bradford for tomorrow. 0-6
4 mins: Evening everyone. All the action is at the other game – actually that’s where all the lack of action is. Bradford and even out-of-town Hull players caught in traffic on the way to the KC. Here’ play is underway in front of a vocal crowd. High standard game, Warrington – in particular – have class across the paddock. 0-0
Final team lists:
WIGAN: Sam Tomkins; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Pat Richards; Blake Green, Matty Smith; Sean O’Loughlin (c), Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes, Lee Mossop, Michael McIlorum, Gil Dudson. Res: Ben Flower, Scott Taylor, Sam Powell, Greg Burke.
WARRINGTON: Brett Hodgson; Chris Riley, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Simon Grix, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Adrian Morley (c). Res: Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Mickey Higham, Stefan Ratchford.
Referee: Phil Bentham