Harlequins RL will feel disappointed today after sharing the points with Wigan Warriors yesterday afternoon, in a game marred by poor officiating. Referee Ben Thaler, who as video referee was at the centre of several controversial decisions against Quins last week, turned in an inconsistent performance that again raises doubt over the success of the RFL’s decision to employ fulltime Super League referees.
It took just four minutes for Thaler’s influence to be felt, ironically missing a clear example of crossing from the Wigan side before compounding the mistake by awarding a penalty against Quins for a one on one ball steal. Wigan fullback Pat Richards wasn’t complaining as he gratefully accepted the two points.
The home side snatched back the lead after a quarter of an hour when second-row Matt Gafa produced a great run to touch down for the Quins. Three minutes later Scott Hill showed his experience to find his way over for the second try and Henry Paul added the conversion to extend the lead to 10 – 2.
It was former Quins halfback Thomas Leuluai who pulled Wigan back into the game just into the second quarter, shrugging off some weak tackles with a powerful run to the line. Richards added the conversion to make it 10 – 8.
On the half hour mark Quins fullback Mark McLinden picked up a controversial try, hooker Chad Randall looked to have knocked on but it was adjudged to have come off a Wigan hand and McLinden was in support to puncture the flat footed Warriors defence. Henry Paul added the conversion, giving the home side a 16 - 8 advantage going into the break.
The second half saw Trent Barrett collect two tries to level the scores at 16 all, but it was the decision of Thaler to disallow a McLinden try for the second week running on the basis of a dubious obstruction call that was to prove crucial to the game. As the half wore on the home crowd became increasingly vocal in their frustrated at the referees apparent unwillingness to keep the visitors on side or to stamp out the frequent holding down in the tackle, but the protestations were in vain.
The final stages saw both sides attempting drop goals to snatch the lead, but none found their mark. It was Quins who arguably squandered the best chances when on successive occasions they shunned opportunities to set-up properly for the one point by running the ball wide in the hope of sneaking a try.
Ultimately a point is of little use to either side, with both now looking outsiders to sneak into a playoff position.
Harlequins RL: (16) 16
Tries: Gafa, Hill, McLinden
Goals: Paul 2
Wigan: (8) 16
Tries: Leuluai, Barrett 2 Goals: Richards 2