As always, there are a few rules in Super League that are causing debate.
One that has been causing frustration among fans for a while now is the decision to trap the ball at the back of a scrum to get a penalty.
Speaking during Wigan Warriors’ win over Catalans Dragons last night, former Super League official Ian Smith highlighted how much he doesn’t like the rule.
“I don’t like teams trapping the ball in the back of the scrum to get a penalty. Four penalties already tonight for that.”
I don’t like teams trapping the ball in the back of the scrum to get a penalty. Four penalties already tonight for that.
— Ian Smith (@Iansmith2468) March 9, 2023
However, his fellow ex-official Richard Silverwood is a fan of the play believing it to be great attacking innovation.
“They are trapping it to allow the half to get round not to try get a penalty. I love it. Said a few weeks ago its almost undefendable when done right. That’s why teams are giving penalties away as they know its try time if not.”
They are trapping it to allow the half to get round not to try get a penalty. I love it. Said a few weeks ago its almost undefendable when done right. That's why teams are giving penalties away as they know its try time if not.
— Richard Silverwood (@SilversRef) March 9, 2023
Penalties aside, it was a terrific game last night. After threatening runs from the lively and quick Arthur Mourgue, a strong run and spin from Manu Ma’u up against Brad Singleton allowed him to cross as e returned to the side.
Adam Keighran has been one of the best signings of the season and we saw that again as he helped create the overlap down the left that enabled Arthur Romano to stroll in.
After being near perfect for the first 40, Catalans gave away a crucial penalty on the cusp of halftime as Manu Ma’u was penalised for a late hit on Harry Smith and was yellow carded. It allowed the Warriors to trim the lead to 12-2 and gave them a man advantage to start the second half.
Often we see a man advantage exploited out wide but after chancing their arm out wide, it was a short ball to Kaide Ellis down the middle that allowed the prop to pop through the line and find Smith with an offload to score.
Kicks were causing chaos in the swirling wind and this was having a profound impact on proceedings as were the penalties received which created huge swings in possession and territory. One penalty allowed the Warriors to trim the deficit all the way down to 12-10.
A smart play from Tyrone May to kick ahead early in the tackle count saw Manu Ma’u race ahead and pick up the ball before stepping passed Jai Field and having the strength to get the ball down for a brace in an up and down game for the former Hull FC man.
A number of times Wigan were inches away with their most reliable scorers. Before Ma’u’s second, Liam Marshall, who had scored eight tries in the opening three games, was close to grounding a kick after a deflection then a smart kick from Smith looked set to lead to a Bevan French try as he chased but he couldn’t grab hold.
Tom Johnstone won the game for the Dragons but not in the way you would expect. Usually a try scorer, this time he came up with a terrific try saver on Jake Wardle as he looked to be headed over for a try that could have given the Warriors a chance at a comeback.