After leading in the closing stages of the game
through a magnificent Andrew Farrell drop goal, Wigan eventually held
on for a point after Sean Long had managed the same. Wigan were a
much improved side from the one that lost at the McAlpine Stadium
The traditional tie often brings the best out of
both sides, and Wigan lifted themselves following a poor run of form
in a superb Knowsley Road encounter.
Saints, who had won all of their Super League and
Powergen Challenge Cup ties so far this year, looked set to lose the
epic battle after Andy Farrell's 72nd minute drop goal, but Long
popped up late on to secure a point.
The game was played at a frantic pace thoughout,
and opened in explosive fashion, with Paul Sculthorpe stopping
Quentin Pongia inches short.
Andy Farrell kicked Wigan into a 2-0 lead on six
minutes after Mark Edmondson was penalised for accidental offside.
Saints hit back on 12 minutes, when Keiron
Cunningham and Sean Long combined to send Lee Gilmour crashing over
on the right, although Long could not convert.
Jason Hooper had to track back to stop Brett
Dallas, while the end-to-end action continued as Cunningham was
halted short following Wellens' initial break.
Saints moved 10-2 up on the quarter mark, with
Long racing between Danny Tickle and Terry Newton before drawing Kris
Radlinski and sending Gilmour over for his second score under the
And they added a third try four minutes later,
when Danny Orr lost the ball on half way and Jon Wilkin gathered and
raced to the line.
Wigan pulled back six points on the half hour,
when Danny Sculthorpe's pass created the space for youngster Kevin
Brown to score out wide, Farrell adding a fine touchline goal.
Wigan held on late in the half as Saints pressed
to extend their lead, and the Warriors then levelled the contest on
Keith Mason had already produced a try-saving
tackle before Danny Orr's grubber gave Wigan a repeat possession on
the Saints line, and Terry Newton's well-timed pass allowed Danny Orr
to dive in under the posts.
A piece of brilliance from Paul Wellens, whose
delightful around-the-man pass put Willie Talau over on 46 minutes,
enabled Saints to return to a 20-14 cushion, but Wigan again hit
This time, Newton turned from provider to scorer,
following up his own grubber into the in-goal area to ground the
ball, after Hooper had failed to deal with the kick.
Passions boiled over on 59 minutes, with Newton
and Wilkin being sent for ten minutes in the sin-bin after their
altercation sparked a brawl.
And tensions were high as both sides seeked a
breakthrough, which finally came for Wigan on 72 minutes, when
Farrell landed a drop goal from 40 metres to edge his side ahead.
Saints mounted a barrage of pressure as they
looked for a try, but settled for a one-pointer themselves with two
minutes remaining, Long cleverly darting out of dummy half to slot
his kick through the posts.
The scrum half could have won the game when he
broke through in the final minute, but Radlinski's desperate tackle
ensured that honours were shared.