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Jon Wilkin Column - Win over Wigan sets us up nicely for the play-offs
THERE are many reasons to be pleased with the win at the DW Stadium not least it helps dispel the myth that we can’t beat Wigan, despite a year of saving our worst performances for our fixtures against them.
Secondly it helps us stride into the play-offs a some pace rather than trying to gather momentum going into this Saturday’s game.
The game itself was thrown a curveball by the dismissal of Michael Mcllorum for a late and high shot on ALF.
A dismissal like that does change a game - following my sixth minute dismissal against Bradford in 2004 a Saints side featuring our academy, (including James Roby on debut!!) got belted off Bradford. This was slightly different though as it wasn't a rain soaked Odsal and Wigan hadn't fielded a weakened side.
To be honest we were disappointed about the sending off because we wanted to play Wigan at full strength, continue on from the great start we had in the game and go into the play-offs having made a statement.
The Wigan game, however big it was, simply acted as a trailer to what is the movie everyone came to see and that is the play-offs.
We face Warrington a side that are a hugely different club from the side that I played against in my first season in 2003.
Facilities and investment from Simon Moran have seen them rise to prominence over the last three or four years in the league standings and Challenge Cup specifically.
So far a place at Old Trafford has been out of their reach and its certainly something they will have been focusing on since the cup final win.
People have cited their Cup final appearances and its proximity to the play-offs as mitigation for their poor form in the final games of the year but following two wins since Wembley it would appear we will face Warrington at their best and we wouldn't want it any other way.
I love going to the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
It is a place full off good memories for me in a Saints shirt. We have had some great wins in some of the most intense games I have ever played in and we fully expect this weekend to be no different at all.
The key to the game is an intensity and focus to our defence if we defend well we are very hard side to beat, if you couple that with execution in attack you have the ingredients for a big game performance.
This week we had our club awards night and supporters’ awards night! There was a consistent theme at both nights with the same two or three names being mentioned by people who watch our games from all angles.
Congratulations to Sia Soliola, James Roby and Paul Wellens. Whichever order you put them in they have been consistently amazing all year and a pleasure to play with.
Paul in particular has had a good a year as I can remember in 2012, scoring tries , making breaks and growing his hair back to what I call the full ‘Kevin Keegan’ circa 1980 - all signals of Mr Wellens in a confident mood. Away from that young players who have grasped an opportunity and refused to let go are Tommy Makinson, Adam Swift and Josh Jones.
Tommy and Josh in particular have not only taken part in many big games this year but made a difference on countless occasions.
On the Testimonial front I am still recovering from Johnny Vegas’ performance at the Irn Bru comedy night.
All the acts that performed were amazing and the night and thanks everyone for their support especially Bev Dixon who co-ordinated the night. Next up is the Question of Sport dinner at Langtree Park next week with last minute spaces still available. Visit www.jonwilkin.co.uk/events to see the details.
We have viewing tables available at £36 per head and I am really chuffed Clare Balding will be hosting the night as I think she's tremendous at her job and was awesome at the Olympics.
Bring on the play-offs COYS