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15th May 2004: St Helens 32 Wigan 16

St Helens v Wigan Warriors - 2004 Powergen Challenge Cup Final
Saturday 15th May 2004. Kick Off 2:30pm at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

Wigan were unable to overcome local rivals St. Helens this afternoon as they suffered defeat in the Powergen Challenge Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in the Cardiff sunshine.

It's the ninth time the Saints have lifted the famous trophy and scrum half Sean Long inspired the win and earned the Lance Todd Trophy as Man of the Match with a fine all-round display and six goals, while centre Willie Talau scored two tries.

The afternoon got off to a bad start for Wigan as it was St. Helens opened the scoring inside three minutes.  The chance came after Kris Radlinski was unable to get his kick away under pressure from Jason Hooper, with Talau collecting and putting Lee Gilmour in from 25 yards. Long converted to open up a 6-0 gap, but Wigan were phased and came back strongly.

Firstly, Andy Farrell saw a try ruled out by the video referee for a knock on after losing the ball in Paul Sculthorpe's attempted tackle.  The Wigan managed to level matters on 13 minutes, Farrell, Gareth Hock and Radlinski combining to free Adrian Lam down the middle.  The Papua New Guinean was obstructed after chipping over Paul Wellens, but Terry Newton raced through to scoop up the ball and score under the posts, Farrell levelling matters.

Kevin Brown was also denied a try - following an earlier knock on - as Wigan pressed, but it was Saints who broke the deadlock with a Long penalty after Quentin Pongia caught Wellens high.

Long turned creator for Saints' second try, on 23 minutes, with a deft grubber kick which Willie Talau collected above Dave Hodgson to touch down, the conversion creating a 14-6 lead.

Danny Orr's last-gasp tackle saw Darren Albert put a foot in touch to be denied a score soon afterwards, while Saints' substitute winger Dom Feaunati was placed on report for a high tackle on Kevin Brown.

Wigan used the field position gained by that penalty - and a knock on from Martin Gleeson - to cut the gap to four points, Lam putting Brett Dallas for his second in at the corner.

But Saints provided a half-time sickener for Wigan, keeping the ball alive for Keith Mason to allow Wellens to score at the side of the posts.

Albert was again denied at the corner early in the second half, this time by a wonderful cover tackle from Radlinski, but there was little the full back could do on 50 minutes to prevent a crucial score.

Brown collected a loose ball inside his own quarter but then attempted to offload, gifting possession to Paul Sculthorpe, who was tackled but then supported Long to power to the line.

Long converted and added another penalty to open up a commanding 28-10 lead, with Pongia going on report for the high tackle on Mark Edmondson.

Saints went close to extending their lead, firstly when Long's kick just bounced dead ahead of Talau and then when Hodgson tracked back to stop Edmondson after a Long break.

Wigan gave themselves hope on 67 minutes, with Brown surging clear from inside his own half before putting Dallas in for his second, Farrell's goal cutting the lead to 28-16.

But Long ensured the win two minutes later, chipping over and collecting his own kick before allowing Gilmour to send Talau in.

Reaction to the Action

Mike Gregory: "The second half just went away from us. We failed to compete with the best attacking team in the comp and they just killed us. For them to score on half time was particularly disappointing, as were the mistakes that led up to it. We couldn't control their off loads. Credit to them but we've got to get stronger in collision. The species were sensational weren't they? It was nice to go round Cardiff last night and be wished all the best by fans from Leeds, Bradford and Castleford, saying that they were Wiganers for the day. That was nice, but we have to thank our own loyal Wigan fans for their support and now get back on the horse."

Terry Newton: "I can't put my finger on why we didn't perform, we just didn't put the performance on for the full 80 minutes. We had the perfect week leading up to the game, the best preparation anyone could ask for. It just wasn't to be."

Craig Smith: "I'm dejected; it is a lot of hard work down the drain. But you pick yourself up and move on. Hopefully we'll be in the Grand Final at the end of the year."

Danny Sculthorpe: "I am absolutely gutted, but I just have to get over it. It just wasn't to be, we dropped too much ball.It just didn't come off.We have to get over it and get into the Grand Final."

Kevin Brown: "There was no better feeling than being named in the starting line up and it was like a different world out there. After losing, this is one of the lowest points I've ever experienced so far in my career. I am so disappointed that I can't really put it into words." 

Team Sheets

- St Helens Position Wigan -
1 Paul Wellens Full Back Kris Radlinski 1
2 Ade Gardner Winger David Hodgson 14
3 Martin Gleeson Centre Sean O'Loughlin 15
4 Willie Talau Centre Kevin Brown 21
5 Darren Albert Winger Brett Dallas 2
6 Jason Hooper Stand Off Danny Orr 6
7 Sean Long Scrum Half Adrian Lam 7
8 Nick Fozzard Prop Quentin Pongia 18
9 Keiron Cunningham Hooker Terry Newton 9
16 Keith Mason Prop Craig Smith 10
11 Chris Joynt 2nd Row Danny Tickle 12
12 Lee Gilmour 2nd Row Gareth Hock 20
13 Paul Sculthorpe L.Forward Andy Farrell 13
18 Mark Edmondson Substitute Terry O'Connor 8
20 Ricky Bibey Substitute Mick Cassidy 11
21 Jon Wilkin Substitute Danny Sculthorpe 16
22 Dom Feaunati Substitute Stephen Wild 19

Score Sheet

St Helens 32 --- Wigan Warriors 16
Lee Gilmour
Willie Talau 2
Paul Wellens
Paul Sculthorpe
--- Tries:
Terry Newton
Brett Dallas 2
Sean Long 6
--- Goals:
Andy Farrell 2

Other Information

Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick (Warrington)
Attendance: 73,734
Half Time: Saints 20 Wigan 6
Match was broadcast Live on BBC ONE Grandstand.

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