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5th September 1999: Wigan 28 St Helens 20

Wigan Warriors v St Helens - JJB Sports Super League IV Round 29
Sunday 5th September 1999. Kick Off 4:00pm at Central Park

Jason Robinson, one of Wigan's modern-day legends, helped pay a fitting tribute to his illustrious predecessors as rugby league bade a fond farewell to Central Park yesterday. The diminutive Great Britain right-winger produced one of his finest performances on a day rich in nostalgia and emotion as Wigan's famous ground staged the last match of its 97-year existence.

Asked who wrote his script for the fairytale ending, born-again Christian Robinson said: "The man upstairs."

He added: "It will go down as one of my best memories. It is on your mind about scoring tries. The forwards worked hard and I managed to finish things off."

Central Park will shortly make way for a supermarket. But that will not erase memories of a glorious past. A capacity 18,000 crowd witnessed a parade of legends before kick-off. And Billy Boston, Eric Ashton and company would have been proud of the deeds of present-day internationals Andy Farrell, Gary Connolly and Robinson.

It was Robinson who set the tone for a pulsating encounter by creating a fourth-minute try for Denis Betts, another modern-day hero who would not be out of place in an all-time Wigan XIII. The game, played in a wonderful carnival atmosphere in temperatures soaring into the 80s, never dropped below the intensity of a Cup final and St Helens, who badly needed the points to secure second place in Super League, played their part to the full. Tommy Martyn had opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty and the visitors drew level when Paul Sculthorpe touched down.

But Wigan seized temporary control with two more tremendous tries in the space of five minutes, Farrell catching the Saints defence napping with a quickly-taken tap that set up a score for Connolly and Robinson bringing the capacity crowd to its feet with a spectacular 65-metre try. Farrell's second conversion made it 16-6, but Saints hit back when Martyn and Paul Newlove combined to get Anthony Sullivan over at the corner.

Saints drew level on 57 minutes when Kevin Iro raced in at the corner before Robinson again demonstrated electrifying pace with his second try. Farrell added the goal and attempted to put the result beyond doubt with a failed drop goal but Wigan added a fifth try through centre Paul Johnson five minutes from time.

There was still time for Martyn to have the consolation of scoring the final try at the ground.

Betts said: "It was a relief when it was over. We did what we had set out to do. It was also a sad day because this place means so much to so many people. We wanted to go out on a winning note."

Wigan:- Kris Radlinski, Jason Robinson, Gary Connolly, Danny Moore, Paul Johnson, Chris Chester, Gavin Clinch, Neil Cowie, Mark Smith, Terry O'Connor, Mick Cassidy, Denis Betts, Andy Farrell (Capt.)
Subs:- Brett Goldspink, Tony Mestrov, Simon Haughton and Lee Gilmour.
Tries:Betts(3), Connolly(26), Robinson(30,62), Johnson(71)
Goals:Farrell (2)

St Helens:-AnTony Stewart, Chris Smith, Kevin Iro, Paul Newlove, Anthony Sullivan, Paul Sculthorpe, Tommy Martin, Julian O'Neil, Keiron Cunningham, Apollo Perelini, Des Clark, Sonny Nickle, Chris Joynt (Capt.)
Subs:-Vila Matautia, Fereti Tuilagi, Garath Price, Steve Hall.
Tries:Sculthorpe(21), Sullivan(35), Iro(59), Matyn(78)
Goals:Martyn (2)

Other Information

Attendance: 18,179
Referee: Stuart Cummings
Pitch: Excellent
Weather: Hot
Wigan Man of the Match: Jason Robinson

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