So a week after THE title decider that decided nothing at
Central Park against St Helens, Wigan were back for another title decider
this time against Castleford. Saints were two points clear at kick off but
they had no games remaining. This was Wigan's game in hand and if they won
they'd win the title on points difference. Castleford were the opponents who
had taken the title race out of Wigan's hands by beating them at Wheldon
Road twelve days earlier. Wigan wouldn't be done a second time by them
though. They produced a thoroughly professional display to get the job done.
Frano Botica settled any nerves with an early drop goal for 1-0 and then a
penalty goal for 3-0. Then in the 18th Minute Phil Clarke scored under the
sticks, taking advantage of poor tackling from Tawera Nikau. Botica
converted for a 9-0 Wigan lead. Cas soon hit back though when a kick from
Peter Coyne ricochet off Clarke straight into the hands of Mike Ford who
scored under the sticks for Lee Crooks to convert. The now 9-6 score held
for the final 15 minutes of the half.
Sweat was on but soon settled down again by that man
Botica in the first minute of the second half. This time not a kick but a
try in the left corner to which he converted off the touchline for 15-6. Off
the restart of that try, Sam Panapa found space on the right and although
Botica was held short, Dean Bell got Jason Robinson over in the right corner
and with Botica converting again and with these kicks Botica had also beaten
Fred Griffiths goals scored in a season for Wigan which dated back to 1959.
Saints Tea Ropati, guesting in Sky's studio at Central
Park, was pretty hopeful at half time but now just five minutes after the
interval Wigan had full control of the title destiny at 21-6. Botica edged
them out to 25-6 with penalty goals and with ten minutes remaining all
looked sweet. But a second try from Mike Ford and one from Tony Morrison on
77 minutes, brought that lead back down to 25-18 and Wigan had a sweaty time
getting to the final hooter but the job had been done and Wigan's fourth
title in a row had been achieved.
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