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26th July 1996: Wigan 34 Halifax 26

Wigan Warriors v Halifax Blue Sox - Stones Super League I Round 18.
Friday 26th July at Central Park.

Match Report from www.theboltonnews.co.uk

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 lead.

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.

Other Information

Attendance: 8,221

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