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|Friday 4th October 2002|
|Wigan Warriors 41 Leeds Rhinos 16|
|JJB Stadium, Wigan|
|Tetley's Super League 7 Elimination Play Off|
Kick Off: 8:00pm
|1||Kris Radlinski||T||1||Francis Cummins|
|20||Martin Aspinwall||T||14||Mark Calderwood|
|4||Gary Connolly||5||Chev Walker|
|14||David Hodgson||4||Keith Senior|
|27||Shaun Briscoe||T||2||Karl Pratt|
|6||Julian O'Neill||6||Ben Walker||G3|
|7||Adrian Lam||DG||7||Ryan Sheridan||T|
|8||Terry O'Connor||18||Danny Ward|
|9||Terry Newton||9||Matt Diskin|
|10||Craig Smith||10||Barrie McDermott|
|11||Mick Cassidy||11||Andy Hay|
|12||Dave Furner||T||G2||12||Matt Adamson||T|
|13||Andy Farrell||T2||G6||13||Kevin Sinfield||T|
|17||Harvey Howard||3||Tonie Carroll|
|22||Sean O'Loughlin||16||Willie Poching|
|24||Danny Sculthorpe||17||Wayne McDonald|
|26||Danny Tickle||19||Rob Burrow|
Wigan progress to the next stage of the Super League play offs with a very
satisfying 41-18 victory over Leeds Rhinos.
This win was masterminded by the creative genius of Adrian Lam, Craig Smith's powerful running at prop and two well taken tries by captain Andy Farrell, who also kicked six goals from seven attempts.
The Warriors simply punished careless Leeds' dreadful errors to establish a 19-0 half time lead. The Rhinos did have a mini fightback but it was too little, too late, the damage had already been done.
Andy Farrell opening the scoring on eleven minutes from a penalty, Leeds' being punished for holding down at the play the ball. From the resulting kick off, Kevin Sinfield's restart went out on the full. Criminal! Great Britain standard players should not be making mistakes like that and moments later he was duly punished.
Kris Radlinski took an offload from Kiwi Craig Smith and river danced through three or four pathetic tackle attempts from Leeds. It was a great try, Rads at his very best. Farrell converted and Wigan led 8-0 after 12 minutes.
Next Wigan try all came about from a timely interception from Adrian Lam. He took Karl Pratt's intended pass to Keith Senior and moments later Terry Newton worked the blind side to allow Shaun Briscoe to score a try in the corner. Young Briscoe, who is looking like a great talent, did fantastic to avoid going into touch but again it was poor Rhinos defence as Mark Calderwood was caught napping. Farrell missed the goal. 12-0 Wigan after 19 minutes.
Following the restart, Leeds' again mess about in the play the ball area and this time Russell Smith has had enough. Chev Walker is sent to the bin after being deemed guilty of inteference as David Hodgson lost the ball.
Wigan just kept doing what they had done before. They punished the mistake by scoring a try on 22 minutes. Farrell grabbed the first of his two tries following a great jinking step to beat a flat-footed Matt Adamson. He added the extras before Lam supplemented the scoring with a drop goal as Wigan led 19-0 at half time. Just before then however, Dave Furner was also binned for interference.
In the second half Wigan came out with the right tactics. Great touchfinders from Lam kept the Rhinos penned inside their own half for long periods.
Farrell extended the Warriors lead to 21-0 early in the second half, then on 53 minutes Danny Tickle goes over the line. But the lad nicknamed "Tess" is denied by the video referee who deemed that he did not ground the ball.
You felt at the point if Wigan had scored it would be all over for Leeds but the no try decision lifted the Rhinos who went over for their first try just three minutes later. A dubious high tackle by Gary Connolly gave Leeds six tackles on the Wigan line and the pressure told as loose forward Kevin Sinfield powered over from close range. Ben Walker converted and Leeds had a chance at 21-6.
But soon after the game breaker as Wigan punished yet another Leeds mistake, which allowed Farrell to score his second try of the game. He took a great pass from Mick Cassidy to score almost underneath the sticks. Simple conversion restored the 15 point lead at 27-6.
To their credit the Rhinos did not give up. On 64 minutes Matt Adamson scored after a Tonie Carroll pass dropped into his arms via a deflection of a Wigan defender. He went over in the corner and Ben Walker beautifully converted from the sideline. 27-12 Wigan with 16 minutes to go.
Momentum was building for Leeds and they were soon pressing the Wigan line again following two penatlies. Wigan defended well and Danny Sculthorpe was in no mood to mess around. He took the safe option and punched a last tackle kick away for a drop out.
Time was running out for the Rhinos, they had to score but on 69 minutes, Adamson knocked on and then Leeds stole the ball in a two man tackle gifting Farrell another two points from the boot.
At that point with a 29-12 scoreline it was surely all over with just five minutes on the clock but Leeds did not give in. Ryan Sheridan scored but it was little more than a consolation in the end.
In fact Wigan still had time to score two more tries themselves. First Dave Furner, against the club he will be playing for next season, then Martin Aspinwall put the cherry on top of the cake with the last score.
Furner was allowed to kick the conversions for the last two tries and he did so with ease. It was a great parting gesture by Andy Farrell for Furner who was playing his last ever game at the JJB.
It was a great victory but we are handed three more injury blows from this match.
Dave Hodgson was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder and has already been ruled out of next Friday's trip to the losers of tomorrow's qualifying semi-final between St Helens and Bradford.
Stand-off Julian O'Neill (knee) and hooker Terry Newton (dislocated elbow) are also battling to be fit after joining Wigan's never-ending casualty list.
On a bright note, Brian Carney could be back for next week.
Coach Stuart Raper said: "We're struggling, we'll have to tape these blokes together, nail them together if we have to.
"Whatever we have to do, we'll get 17 guys on the pitch and they'll put their bodies on the line again. Our physio is going to work his butt off this week."
About the match he added: "I don't think there was a stand-out performer," said Raper. "As a team, we played very well and everyone's contribution was outstanding."
At the end of the day there are smiles on all the players faces as Wigan move on. It doesn't get any easier, a trip to St Helens or Bradford awaits. Who do we want to play? Who cares, bring them on I say!
Russell Smith (Castleford)
2002 Super League Play Offs - Week 2
Friday 4th October 2002
Saturday 5th October 2002