Wigan put their off-field turmoil behind them to go back to the top of the
Super League last night.
The champions were without winger Martin Offiah,
who is expected to sign for London Broncos this weekend for around
£300,000 and skipper Shaun Edwards who made himself unavailable through
injury after being told he would only be a substitute.
The Riversiders shrugged off the setbacks to produce several dazzling
tries which completely stunned a defensively suspect Halifax outfit. But
has happened too often for comfort this season Wigan too were stretched at
times and must have been thankful of a comfortable cushion in the
second-half as the Blue Sox came storming back.
The return of Neil Cowie and Kel Skerrett gave the pack much needed
firepower, but it was centres Gary Connolly and Va'aiga Tuigamala who
proved the dangermen with their probing runs.
Coach Graeme West was relieved to have picked up the two points: "The
spirit was there but basic errors let us down. Everyone wants to do well
and the training has been good, we have just got to prove it on the park."
Referring to unseemly chants of 'sack the board' by a small section of
the fans West added: "I can understand their frustration, but like me they
have to patient. At the moment we are financially constrained, but better
times will return. The lads have gone forward from last week and we will
have to go forward again when we have a tough game at Sheffield."
A John Schuster penalty gave Halifax an early lead, but Wigan's
attacking prowess was quickly to the fore when Kris Radlinski and Danny
Ellison were sent racing over and Andy Farrell, who had another superb
game, added a goal.
The Yorkshiremen came back with a Schuster try and goal, but then
Connolly took command, racing over from acting half back before sending
Tuigamala in for atry. Two Farrell goals gave Wigan a comfortable interval
That was quickly stretched when Henry Paul touched down from his own
kick ahead and Craig Murdock raced over. Farrell added a conversion and a
penalty before the Yorkshiremen bounced back with tries from Craig Dean,
Simon Baldwin and Fereti Tuilagi and three Schuster conversions before
Wigan shored up their shaky defence.
Wigan have just four league games remaining and must win them all and
hope St Helens drop a point if they are to win the title. Saints face a
tough test against London Broncos tonight.
WIGAN: Radlinski, Ellison, Connolly, Tuigamala, Robinson, Paul,
Murdock, Cowie, Hall, O'Connor, Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell. Subs: Skerrett
(for Cowie 29), Craig (for Connolly 52), Barrow (for Skerrett 72), Cowie
(for O'Connor 72), Paul Johnson.