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
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
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
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.
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
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."