Wigan made sure of a home draw in the quarter-finals of the World Club
Championship, even if their victory was due in the main to Canterbury's
Wigan scraped home in a scrappy match largely thanks to the
Bulldogs having two players sent off in the second half. They had
struggled to find any rhythm until that, but, faced with 11 men, just
about had sufficient composure to complete the double over Canterbury
and give themselves a splendid chance of further progress.
Canterbury gifted Wigan the most generous start imaginable by twice
dropping Andy Farrell's kicks in the first two minutes. Barry Verrigan
spilled the first to put Wigan on the attack and, when the defence
failed to take a bomb aimed at the corner, Gary Connolly claimed it for
Kris Radlinski to go over. Another Farrell kick added a further two
The lead did not last long. Farrell was penalised for holding Travis
Norton and, from the tap penalty, Canterbury worked their way to the
line for Robert Mears to sneak over.
From then on it was poor and inconclusive stuff from both sides until
Farrell's raking pass sent Craig Murdock through a gap. Robert Relf held
him down in the tackle and a Farrell penalty put Wigan back in front.
Canterbury were prone to horrendous errors and another led to Wigan
extending their lead. Verrigan could only scramble Murdock's kick into
touch and, after the scrum had been won, Mick Cassidy's pass sent Neil
Cowie charging over.
Canterbury were certainly looking bad enough to lose this match, even
if Wigan were not necessarily good enough to win it, but they drew level
when Craig Polla-Mounter's pass sent Simon Gillies in after seeming to
take a deflection on its way.
There was worse to come before the end of a mistake-strewn half, Andy
Johnson allowing Glen Hughes' kick to run past him for Daryl Halligan to
Five minutes into the second half, Hughes was sent off for a high
tackle of Stephen Holgate. Even then, Wigan refused to accept their good
fortune, Murdock throwing a terrible pass which was picked off by
Halligan, who rushed 60 yards to score. But then, in a rare flash of
quality, Jason Robinson's pass sent Farrell striding away and his dummy
took him under the sticks.
There was more to come as, 13 minutes from time, Wigan equalised,
with Murdock's pass sending Robinson over. Almost immediately,
Canterbury lost their second miscreant, Steve Reardon taking the walk
for use of the elbow, and Farrell slotted home the penalty via the post
and quickly added a drop goal.
Another dropped ball saw Connolly sew up the result in the last
minute. Wigan were home and dry and will fancy their chances at home to
the likes of the Hunter Mariners in the next stage of the competition.
Wigan's coach, Eric Hughes, said: "Normally it's the Australian sides
who cope well under pressure, but they seemed to lose their way while we
kept our cool and kept focused."
Wigan: Paul, Cardiss, Connolly, Radlinski, A Johnson, Robinson,
Murdock, O'Connor, Cassidy, Cowie, Lester, Haughton, Farrell.
Substitutes used: Hansen, Holgate, Tallec.
Canterbury: Berrigan; Halligan, Marteene, Timu, El Masri, G Hughes, Polla-Mounter, Britt, Mears, Price, Reardon, Gillies,
Norton. Substitutes used: Relf, Newton, Pickering.
Referee: R Smith (Castleford).