A massive Good Friday battle ahead against St Helens at
Central Park loomed in five days time but Wigan first had to deal with a
trip to fourth placed Castleford. It was a difficult enough looking fixture
but Wigan also had Shaun Edwards, Martin Dermott, Andy Platt, Denis Betts
and Phil Clarke backing up from the Friday Night Great Britain 72 France 6
International at Headingley. Castleford had their Scrum Half Mike Ford
involved also but he only played the last 14 minutes as a substitute for
It was a tight first half with Castleford scoring first
in the 19th Minute through a Tony Smith try but Neil Cowie responded just
four minutes later. A Frano Botica penalty goal edged Wigan in front 8-6 at
the break. News may have filtered through that title rivals Saints were 22-2
up against Leeds at Half Time but Wigan just needed to do their own job.
Soon after the restart, Castleford retook the lead with a
Grant Anderson try, which Lee Crooks converted, for 12-8. Wigan soon
responded after Castleford made an error on the kick off but Martin
Dermott's drop goal was a strange option to narrow the gap to 12-9. Another
Castleford error saw Shaun Edwards score a try that made it 15-12 to Wigan
after Botica converted.
The see-saw nature of the game continued when on 56
Minutes Lee Crooks scored a try that this time was converted by Graham
Steadman, for an 18-15 lead. He then added a penalty on the hour for 20-15.
In the 66th Minute, a penalty goal from Botica narrowed that lead to 20-17
but just two minutes after that brought a pivotal moment.
A kick to the in goal looked easy for Jason Robinson to
defend under the posts but the ball bounced wickedly for him and Steadman
pounced to score. Easy conversion by him made it 26-17 to Cas and Wigan were
now flustered and panicking. They just couldn't find a way back in the last
ten minutes and with Saints winning 42-8 at home to Leeds in a simultaneous
match, they had gone two points clear at the top and now knew that despite
Wigan's game in hand advantage, they could win the title if they won at
Central Park on the following Good Friday.