Wigan were again tipped to win this one easily with
Huddersfield yet to win a Superleague game and had not exactly shown that
their last-minute inclusion in Superleague was justified. Wigan had made
the mistake of underestimating the opposition once before, and this was
certainly a oversight they were sure not to make again. Wigan did have a
strong selection of players available and Huddersfield fielded their
strongest team. They had some good players in the team like Paul Cook,
Paul Loughlin, Steve Booth and Neil Harmon.
The game started slowly in front of a keen Wigan home crowd. The forwards
exchanged their usual early blows and tackles came in strongly from both
sides. But Wigan started to gain position and pressure the Giants defence.
Kris Radlinski was the first to strike for Wigan with a finely worked try.
On the last tackle Henry Paul and Mark Bell moved the ball wide and
Radlinski crashed through a tackle to score.
The game settled down again but Huddersfield were always on the back foot.
Henry Paul was next to score on the 21-minute mark with a fine individual
effort. He twisted out of Paul Cook's tackle and opened up a huge gap, he
sprinted through to score under the posts. That broke the will of the
Giants defence, as up until that point they were only 4-0 down. Five
minutes later the ever explosive Jason Robinson flew off the mark at
acting half back. and with Smith in support Robinson offloaded the ball
and Smith took the ball to cross the line under the posts, making another
easy conversion for Farrell.
By 35 minutes Gary Schofield, the Giants coach, had used all his subs to
try and solve the lack of experience at halfback. But all to no avail,
even the experienced Phil Vivers failed to organise the Giants attacks
enough to trouble Wigan. But Vivers and Booth did give Huddersfield their
best options in attack, linking well to spread the ball out wide at times,
and providing some space for the occasional break up field. But Wigan
always had cover, usually in the form of hard tackling full back Kris
The forwards of Wigan were getting on top now and winning the battle for
territory, with Tony Mestrov and Robbie McCormack breaking through the
defensive line. As McCormack headed to the posts he was tackled, but
remarkably flipped the ball up for the supporting Neil Cowie to power over
the line. Wigan lost the services of scrum half Tony Smith just after the
30 minute mark and youngster Darryl Cardiss got his chance to partner
Henry Paul at half back. Farrell was doing his usual task of leading the
Wigan team and providing some great runs.
The second half saw Wigan loose their way somewhat, playing one-man rugby
and making some basic handling errors. But it was McCormack again breaking
through and the supporting Paul that set up Farrell for his try just after
the halftime break. The Giants again made some good breaks downfield only
to be stopped by the sliding defence and lack of support play. When
Farrell limped off with a dead leg it was up to Wigan's improving
halfback, Henry Paul, to get the team back on the rails. And with two of
Wigan's key playmakers now off the field, Henry Paul had the centre stage
and really lifted his game. He made some great attacks and fielded some
fine kicks to give Wigan good field position. In fact Henry really
relished being given the chance to show the fans and coach John Monie just
what he can really do given the motivation and opportunity to lead.
But as Paul set up some great attacks it was second row forward Denis
Betts that made the next try for Wigan with a great 50-meter solo run
which saw him heading for the line. He drew in the defence and offloaded
to Jason Robinson who took up the ball to sprint over the line. With
Farrell off it was Henry Paul who took the goal and added the extra two
points for Wigan. It was now that Huddersfield really started to tire and
the gaps opened up for Wigan. Replacement scrum half Darryl Cardiss was
having a great game and he showed he explosive pace to race a full
55-meters to score a try, after Mick Cassidy flipped the ball out of a
tackle to give him the space to run through. Connolly now took over
kicking duty and took his first conversion of the game.
Not to be outdone by Cardiss' try, Lee Gilmour thought he would go one
better. He broke through the Giants defence and raced 60-meters to the
line, wrong footing Danny Arnold on the way and beating off the attempted
tackle by Craig Weston. Connolly placed his second conversion through the
posts. After the Final hooter it was a tired Giants team who gladly
strolled off to shower and change, seeing their efforts on the field go
unrewarded as they failed to score a single point. Wigan showed that they
are still for from perfect, making a few mistakes, but at least they
played well for long periods, despite loosing Farrell and Smith during the
After the game Wigan Coach John Monie said, "Cardiss was 17th man today,
but he might not be next week. Players like Paul, Connolly, Gilmour,
Cardiss and Jason Robinson can attack any side. With Paul you take the
good with the bad. If you hang on in there he'll do things for you. He
doesn't play the way coaches might want, but he is so unpredictable. The
biggest thing for me is the way we nilled Huddersfield. We started off
rustilly but we defended really well. I was disappointed with the
attacking side of our game at Headingley. For this game we put more
pressure on out attacking players."
Wigan:- Kris Radlinski, Mark Bell, Gary Connolly,
Danny Moore, Jason Robinson, Henry Paul, Tony Smith, Neil Cowie, Robbie
McCormack, Tony Mestrov, Denis Betts, Mick Cassidy, Andy Farrell (Capt.)
Subs:- Simon Haughton, Stephen Holgate, Lee Gilmour, Darryl Cardiss
Tries: Radlinski(14), Paul(21), Smith(26), Cowie(31), Farrell(44),
Robinson(57), Cardiss(77), Gilmour(79)
Goals: Farrell 4, Paul 1, Connolly 2
Huddersfield:- Paul Cook, Dean Hanger, Craig
Weston, Paul Loughlin, Danny Arnold, Chris Orr, Steve Booth, Neil
Harmon(Capt.), Guy Adams, Jamie Field, Terry Bowes, Joe Berry, Matt Sturm.
Subs:- Phil Veivers, Jeff Wittenburg, Ben Barton, Basil Richards.