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27th April 2002: St Helens 12 Wigan 21

Wigan v St Helens - 2002 Kelloggs Nutri Grain Challenge Cup Final.
Saturday 27th April 2002. Kick Off 2:45pm at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.

Original CherryandWhite.co.uk Match Report by Bilko

Wigan defy the odds and win the 2002 Kelloggs Nutri-Grain Challenge Cup Final with a well deserved 21-12 win over rivals St Helens at Murrayfield. Kris Radlinski, who had been confined to a hospital bed for most of the week, produced a stirring display as the underdogs led throughout to claim their first Cup success for seven years.

After sitting through Atomic Kitten, Abide with Me and the tedious National Anthem, St Helens kicked off the 2002 Challenge Cup Final. The game didn't start as I expected it to. I was expecting a fast paced start to the game but in truth the game started slowly with both sides being content to just play out their sets of six early on.

St Helens went closest first on 9 minutes when Tim Jonkers found a slight gap on the left wing. He looked certain to score but Kris Radlinski produced the first of many superb tackles by him on the day. The ball went dead and Wigan got a 20 metre tap.

From that twenty metre tap, Wigan got the first clean break of the game through Andy Farrell on the Wigan left hand side. He and Radlinski offloaded in the tackle which allowed Adrian Lam to fire a long pass to Gary Connolly who sent Brett Dallas on a free run to the line in the right corner. Farrell kicked the conversion and Wigan led 6-0 after 10 minutes.

Minutes later Farrell again broke through the St Helens line but this time a smart little grubber kick by Lam was just to far ahead of Radlinski but Sean Long had to push it out from a dropout.

From the dropout, David Furner made a half break, offloading on the inside to Lam who beat Paul Wellens and Keiron Cunningham to score just left of the posts. Farrell converted the try and Wigan led 12-0 after just 15 minutes.

Wigan knew even after just 15 minutes that Saints would comeback and even tried a drop goal attempt on 21 minutes but Farrell hit it short and wide of the uprights.

Moments later Saints did hit back when Sean Long produced a great bomb on the last tackle. Winger Darren Albert leaped above Jamie Ainscough to score a much-needed try for the Saints but Sean Long hit the conversion attempt wide of the posts. Wigan lead 12-4 after 21 minutes.

From the following kick off, Andy Farrell made a huge error which could have proved costly when he kicked the kick off out on the full. Thankfully it didn't because from the resulting penalty, a possible Keiron Cunningham try was judged No Try by Video Referee Ray Tennant. Controversially so in some peoples eyes but looking at the tape, I'm not sure that Cunningham got the ball over the line. Maybe that's just my Wigan bias eh?

In the 31st minute Saints hit back again when Martin Gleeson went over in the right wing corner. He showed some excellent footwork to beat Paul Johnson and took Radlinski over the line to score. Sean Long though failed with the conversion again allowing Wigan to still lead 12-8

At this point Wigan were just hoping the could hang on until half time with their lead intact. They did exactly that but Half Time brought the news that Mick Cassidy had dislocated his shoulder ruling out of the rest of the game.

Wigan came out for the second half knowing they they really needed to score first. It took them 9 minutes but thats exactly what they did. This time it was Julian O'Neill's turn to break through. He offloaded to Johnson who then set up Connolly who went over just to the right of the sticks. Farrell converted again and Wigan led 18-8

Saints though hit back yet again on the hour mark, this time through Paul Sculthorpe. Darren Britt offloaded very nicely to Sculthorpe who went over just to the right of the posts. Long though completed a miserable afternoon for him personally by missing an easy kick. It was still game on though with just a try and goal between them at 18-12.

But following that try the key moment of the game occurred for Wigan. Farrell kicked a 40/20 which resulted in a drop goal for Adrian Lam a couple of minutes later. That drop goal sealed it for Wigan, 19-12.

With just 14 minutes to go, the Warriors were quite content to just see out the clock now but Saints didn't give up. They blew what turned out to be their last chance of the game on 72 minutes however when they threw an intercept to Jamie Ainscough whilst pressing the Wigan line.

From that, Saints were penalised for stripping the ball from Terry Newton, which allowed Farrell to further stretch our lead. He completed a perfect goal kicking afternoon by slotting over the penalty extending the lead to 21-12 with just 5 minutes left.

Wigan then just killed the clock to secure their first Challenge Cup win since 1995. The hooter went to a tremendous noise and the party began.

The reason we won on the day was simple We had been more desperate than Saints and wanted the win more, simple as that. Now it's time to but a disappointing start to our league campaign behind us and have a real crack at completing the double by winning the Grand Final in October.

Team Sheets

- Wigan Position St Helens -
1 Kris Radlinski Full Back Paul Wellens 1
2 Brett Dallas Winger Anthony Stewart 19
15 Paul Johnson Centre Martin Gleeson 3
4 Gary Connolly Centre Paul Newlove 4
3 Jamie Ainscough Winger Darren Albert 5
6 Julian O'Neill Stand Off Tommy Martyn 20
7 Adrian Lam Scrum Half Sean Long 7
8 Terry O'Connor Prop Darren Britt 8
9 Terry Newton Hooker Keiron Cunningham 9
10 Craig Smith Prop Peter Shiels 12
11 Mick Cassidy 2nd Row Chris Joynt 11
12 David Furner 2nd Row Tim Jonkers 15
13 Andy Farrell L.Forward Paul Sculthorpe 13
- - - - -
5 Brian Carney Substitute Sean Hoppe 2
14 David Hodgson Substitute Barry Ward 10
18 Mark Smith Substitute John Stankevitch 14
21 Ricky Bibey Substitute Mick Higham 17

Score Sheet

Wigan 21 --- St Helens 12
Tries (3):
Brett Dallas
Adrian Lam
Gary Connolly
- Tries (3):
Darren Albert
Martin Gleeson
Paul Sculthorpe
Goals:
Andy Farrell 4/4
-

Goals:
Sean Long 0/3
Drop Goals:
Adrian Lam 1
-

Scoring and Incident Pattern

10mins:21 St Helens 00 Wigan 04 Try: Brett Dallas
- St Helens 00 Wigan 06 Conversion: Andy Farrell (1/1)
14mins:26 St Helens 00 Wigan 10 Try: Adrian Lam
- St Helens 00 Wigan 12 Conversion: Andy Farrell (2/2)
21mins:51 St Helens 04 Wigan 12 Try: Darren Albert
- St Helens 04 Wigan 12 S.Long Missed Conversion (0/1)
30mins:43 St Helens 08 Wigan 12 Try: Martin Gleeson
- St Helens 08 Wigan 12 S.Long Missed Conversion (0/2)
Half Time St Helens 08 Wigan Warriors 12
50mins:41 St Helens 08 Wigan 16 Try: Gary Connolly
- St Helens 08 Wigan 18 Conversion: Andy Farrell (3/3)
59mins:18 St Helens 12 Wigan 18 Try: Paul Sculthorpe
- St Helens 12 Wigan 18 S.Long Missed Conversion (0/3)
65mins:28 St Helens 08 Wigan 19 Drop Goal: Adrian Lam
75mins:27 St Helens 08 Wigan 21 Penalty Goal: Andy Farrell (4/4)
Full Time St Helens 12 Wigan Warriors 21

Other Information

Referee: Stuart Cummings (Widnes)
Video Referee: Ray Tennant (Castleford)
Attendance: 62,140
Weather: Sunny.
Lance Todd Trophy Winner: Kris Radlinski (Wigan)

Opinion: South Stand View
Posted on Monday, April 29 2002 @ 16:28:02 BST by Chris Byron

Well, where exactly do you begin with a column such as this one?

Wigan 21, St Helens 12. Kind of has a nice ring to it, don't you agree?

Before the game, I wandered around Edinburgh with my family. It was really good as I went on a tour bus and looked at all the different sights that the city had to offer; Wigan fans, Saints fans, Bradford fans...They were all there. The tour itself bored me silly, so I sat on the bus and joined in the banter. It was great fun, but my Mum wasn't too impressed with it all.

There we were....About 50 members of the South Stand barmy army. We were all kitted out in our usual shirts and some of us were tired from the long coach journey that we'd endured earlier in the morning. However, it was Cup final day and there was something in the air that made you think it was going to be our day.

I remember Atomic Kitten coming out and I was glued to the middle of the pitch as they played. I have no idea what they were singing about, but never the less I was glued. I watched as some random guy ran on the pitch and began applauding...The security was awful, wasn't it? He could have killed all of them right there. But, I suspect that at least 30,000 drooling males would then have killed him...

Then came the match itself. With the barmy army in full song and Saints fans sitting behind us - we were loving it! I couldn't believe it when Dallas went over for the first of the game. It was a dream start for us and one that I'd never imagined happened. Pey Smith (Drummer boy) continued to bang his drum and nearly deafened me....Which is hard to do with ears the size of mine, but I really didn't care because we were on the road to a historic victory.

I can't really explain to you how I felt when had eventually won the cup. However, I can tell you how the scousers were feeling...Miserable, sad, depressed and suicidal. We were loving it! The first time in years that we've REALLY put one over the enemy in a big game - the boys couldn't have picked a better day to perform.

The final whistle went...

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Champions! Champions! Champions!

Long time since we've won a trophy really, but finally they did it. Everyone already knew we'd won it as soon as Mr Farrell slotted over that penalty, but this CONFIRMED it. That's why the moment was so special and that's why we all went wild.

Then came the special moment were Mr Farrell screamed "C'mon you beauty" and lifted the trophy aloft. Ecstasy, delight, fantastic. I've been to a lot of Challenge Cup finals featuring Wigan before...But this was by far the best because it actually meant something to me - I wasn't a little boy like I was in the olden days. We don't expect to win everything every year now - we have to work for it and that's why it was so special.

The players then started dancing about like idiots, but it was all good because we actually saw the human side of them. I, then, realised how much they wanted it - as much as we did. It wasn't just a job for them in that instant. They didn't care they'd they'd be getting paid thousands of pounds win or lose...They were the Challenge Cup holders. The most historic Cup in Rugby League. Now, their name would be on it.

The aftermath soon followed.

Thousands of Saints fans trudged away quietly not saying anything and trying to avoid eye contact with anyone wearing cherry and white. I've not seen anything like it before. I keep using these words - brilliant, great, fantastic...But what more can I say? Words do not do justice...

I proceeded to then get drunk. Dancing around in the Hotel was great...and surprise, surprise the Saints fans where nowhere to be seen!

The party continued since then and reached its climax at the homecoming I attended. The majority of the barmy army was there and singing as usual - as so was my Dad, who is usually a critic by nature and doesn't ALWAYS get behind the team. However, he was in a singing mood and when that happens - you know it's a special moment.

I even saw my boss from work as Brian Carney began his song and dance. That was truly great watching him cock up that song! Then Mr Farrell started off a song that only a few people know, but everyone tried to sing it and kept muttering the words they didn't. I thought it was really funny!

...And so the partying continued in the town of Wigan and all was well in the world of Rugby League again...

Where does it leave us? Back in contention for the Super League title with the knowledge that we can beat anyone on our day. We've got the desire, we've got the players, we've got the coach and going off this weekend - we have the supporters. Let's use this great win as a spring board to help back the Super League title.

Yes, I know how you're feeling...Only a few days after the final and we still all want to shout some stupid little song. Alright then, my treat...

1, 2, 3, "C'MON WIGAN!"

I'll see you all soon.

Chris

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