When Dewsbury Celtic lost at home to Thornhill on Friday night the Roosters knew that just a point against Wigan St. Judes would be enough to take them out of the relegation zone by virtue of a better points scoring difference, but sadly it just wasn’t to be and they missed out in heart breaking fashion. The St. Judes side are still chasing a possible promotion play off spot and were “hell bent” on revenge having lost at home to the Roosters earlier in the season.
Once again the side were forced into changes with Richard Openshaw coming out of retirement to help out and Paul Morgan, John Brookes and Adam Walker impressing on their return to the team. The man of the match vote however went to Marc Gilligan, and nobody could argue with that.
The home team dominated the first half but failed to turn pressure into points although, bad luck and some dubious touch judging decisions played a part in that. On the other hand however the Wigan side had the better of the second period and must be credited with taking their chances when they did present themselves.
The first scoring opportunity came when Bradley White intercepted and raced 65 metres only to be caught inches from the line by the visitors’ man of the match Darrion Ball.
The full back held White down for too long though and was duly sin binned for preventing a try scoring opportunity. Four minutes later Brookes, White and Morgan linked to send Christian Higgins over the line wide out only for a touch judge to intervene and tell the referee that he dropped the ball. There was no denying the Roosters on 16 minutes however when Morgan chipped over the defence and Higgins got a boot to the ball – sending it to the in goal where Morgan was first there to touch down and White added the conversion (6-0).
Roosters thought they had doubled their advantage on 20 minutes when Gilligan threw an over the top pass to Higgins who stepped passed 2 defenders to score between the sticks, but as the referee was about to award the try the touch judge intervened and the try was chalked off for a forward pass much to the amazement of the home line because without any shadow of a doubt it was not a forward pass.
To add insult to injury St. Judes dew level on 27 minutes when Tom Owen made a great break before drawing full back Morgan and sending Nathan Bevan between the posts to leave Bob Collier an easy conversion (6-6).
More controversy came on 31 minutes when St. Judes knocked on as they drove the ball out 30 metres from their own line and Mike Foster kicked on twice before touching the ball down between the sticks. Joy turned to despair when he turned to see the referee had not played advantage and it was head and feed to Salford at the scrum. Roosters were not to be denied on 37 minutes though when White kicked over the defence to the in goal where Higgins took advantage of a defender losing his footing to score a try that White improved (12-6).
Roosters can thank a great defensive effort from Martin Judge and Paul Morgan for their half time lead though as they held up one of the big St. Judes forwards over the line in injury time.
It was a different Wigan St. Judes that came out for the second half and they moved up a gear and certainly had the best of the second 40, drawing level again just 4 minutes into the re-start. They kept the ball alive on the last tackle before Ball moved across the line and sent Connor Parkinson over in the corner. Collier converted brilliantly from the touch line (12-12) but missed a much easier kick on 51 minutes after St. Judes took the lead for the first time. A high kick from Collier was not dealt with and Parkinson scooted in for his second try (12-16). It didn’t take long for Collier to atone for his missed conversion as a high tackle on 55 minutes saw him convert a penalty (12-18).
Roosters got back on level terms when a pinpoint kick to the corner by White was caught on the full by Muscat who spun out of a tackle to score wide out. White added an excellent conversion (18-18) and a draw might have been a fair result, but while Roosters wasted an opportunity to kick a drop goal by losing the ball on the third tackle in front of goal St. Judes made their chance count. Collier gave them the field position with a 40/20 kick and Den Hunt executed the one pointer perfectly just one minute from time (18-19).