Super League leaders Wigan were given a major scare by the unfancied Blue
Sox before keeping their 100% record intact.
The Warriors were rocked by a Halifax revival that saw them cut the
deficit to 14-10 after an hour, but hooker Terry Newton came to the rescue
with his second try of a tightly-contested match played in atrocious
Quality football was at a premium after persistent heavy rain turned
the pitch into a quagmire but Halifax, under new coach Steve Linnane,
certainly held their own against their star-studded visitors.
The Blue Sox, inspired by former Warrior Gavin Clinch and ex-St Helens
forward Paul Davidson, became the first team to post double figures
against Wigan in Super League this season.
In treacherous conditions under foot, the game was always going to be
decided by the team which took its chances and Wigan made the most of
theirs in the first half to open up a crucial 12-point lead.
Halifax winger Oli Marns began a catalogue of handling errors in only
the second minute and when he lost possession 10 metres from his own line
Wigan took full advantage to work the ball out wide for Newton to force
his way over.
History was against Halifax, who have won just one of 12 Super League
clashes, but they caused Wigan plenty to think about.
Clinch, one of three former Wigan players in the Blue Sox ranks, pushed
them back with a series of raking touch-finders while full-back Daryl
Cardiss, another Warriors old boy, and full debutant Davidson made big
inroads with their penetrative running.
But Wigan, who have conceded just one try in each of their four opening
league matches, were typically miserly in defence and kept the home side
at bay, apart from conceding a sixth-minute penalty to Jamie Bloem.
International half-backs Matthew Johns, making his return from a
hamstring injury, and Adrian Lam worked hard to wield their magic in the
awful conditions and they were both instrumental in Wigan's second try
nine minutes before the break.
Lam caught the Blue Sox defence flat-footed with a quickly-taken tap
penalty and, after combining with Johns, skipper Andy Farrell sold an
outrageous dummy and slid through to touch down.
Farrell, who had put over a 20th-minute penalty, added his second
conversion to move to within 11 points of 2,000 for the club.
The game appeared to be going beyond Halifax when right winger Brett
Dallas crossed five minutes into the second half following outstanding
work from second rower Dave Furner, but the try was disallowed by video
referee Ian Ollerton for an obstruction in the build-up.
And the Blue Sox made the most of the escape four minutes later when
Cardiss grabbed a richly-deserved try, pouncing on Martin Moana's grubber
kick after Dallas had lost his footing on the treacherous surface.
Bloem added a superb conversion from wide out to cut the gap to just
six points, which became four when he succeeded with a 59th-minute
If Cardiss had managed to hang onto Clinch's pass with the try line
beckoning, Halifax might have savoured a rare victory but Newton raced
over from dummy half following Lam's darting run to put the issue finally