Good Friday arrived and the stakes could not have been
higher. Saints now led the table by two points against Wigan who had that game
in hand. Amazingly though the game was not shown Live on Sky. Their was only one
Sky Sports channel back in 1993 and thus Rugby League matches were often shown tape delayed. So
instead of a Wigan v Saints title decider, the Sky viewing public was given a
Premier League Double Header of Wimbledon v Crystal Palace and Sheffield United v Manchester City!!!
Riveting I'm sure! Originally the delayed coverage of Wigan v Saints was only
due to be shown at the late
hour of 11pm but Sky eventually saw some sense and shoehorned 105 minutes
coverage in-between the two Premier League games at 5:00pm.
So by the time Sky got the game on air, the drama had already
been sorted out at Central Park in front of a huge crowd just short of 30,000.
Things had started bleakly for Wigan who got off to a shocking start. Though
they had taken a 2-0 lead with a Botica penalty goal, Gary Connolly intercepted
a Martin Dermott offload to race 40 metres into the right corner and put Saints 4-2 up
in the 7th Minute with Paul Loughlin missing the conversion. Then from the
restart they were in again. Good work from Shane Cooper up the middle saw him
combine with Tea Ropati who's long pass out wide got Alan Hunte over in the same
right corner. Loughlin again failed with the extras though, so the damage was
only 8-2 but for Saints, who would win the league with victory, it was the
Wigan though calmed down and got back level before half time.
Botica kicked another penalty for 4-8 and then after a good burst from Andy
Farrell, quick passing between Denis Betts, Shaun Edwards, Mike Forshaw and Sam
Panapa saw Martin Offiah finish in the left corner. Botica failed with the
extras but the 8-8 score carried until half time.
In fact it not only carried until half time but for the rest
of the game. Their was plenty of sweat and drama though, despite the lack of
scoring. It must have been evil to
stand or sit through considering the title was on the line between these two
Two notable things happened second half. Saints favourite
Kevin Ward's career was ended by a broken leg in the 71st Minute and with three
minutes to go Wigan thought they had kicked a drop goal to win it. Joe Lydon
slotted it over but rules in those days dictated that if it was touched in
flight, it didn't count! Ironically the man who got the touch was Gus O'Donnell,
a player who had joined Saints from Wigan. This touch was later referred to as
"the hand of GO'D" an amusing take on his initials.
So in the end, the 8-8 draw meant the big title decider had
decided nothing. The result was a better one for Wigan though. The points
difference advantage meant that if they won their two remaining games, the title was
coming back to Central Park!