|Standoff Phil Jones was the star of the show
with a hat-trick of tries as Wigan overcame Castleford 24-8 at the
Jungle on Saturday evening.
The relatively unknown 23-year old scored once in the first half and
twice after the break to condemn the Tigers to defeat in their opening
Super League VI fixture.
Cas began the game in a fast and frantic fashion, determined not to
allow their more illustrious opponents room to manoeuvre.
The Tigers pressured the Wigan attack with some 'in-your-face'
tackling and penned Wigan in their own half for opening period of the
match. However Castleford were unable to make their early dominance
count and were made to pay with Wigan's first meaningful attack.
Warriors hooker Terry Newton span a very poor pass out from dummy
half, but the ball bounced along the floor. However standoff Jones did
well to pick the ball up and he burst through a yawning gap in the
Tigers defence to score in the left hand corner. Andy Farrell kicked a
brilliant touchline conversion to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead.
Farrell extended the Wigan lead with a penalty ten minutes later,
after Cas were offside but Danny Orr replied for the Tigers shortly
after with his own penalty effort.
However Jones brought the lead back to eight, five minutes later with
another penalty, during Farrell's absence from the field.
Wigan extended their lead seven minutes from half time, when they
completed several phases of possession; Brett Dallas broke through the
defensive line and scored in the corner.
Jones missed his conversion to make the scores at the break 14-2 to
the Wigan Warriors.
The home side made Wigan fight for every point in a tight encounter,
but luck wasn't on their side and they lost second rower Lee Harland
and hooker Aaron Raper to injury before half time.
The second half was just 73 seconds old when Jones bagged his second
try, David Hodgson making the break before feeding Terry Newton, who
sent Jones in for the touchdown. But it did not take Cas long to
reply, with skipper Adrian Vowles, who won the Man of Steel award for
his powerhouse display, touching down in the 48th minute, Orr adding
the points. However, Wigan always had that little bit extra in the
tank and they secured the win in the 66th minute when Jones grabbed
his third try after a jinking run and added the conversion.
Indeed the margin of victory could have been even greater, but Jones
had what he thought was his fourth try, when he won the race to reach
Lam's kick, ruled out by the video referee.