9th April 1993: Wigan 8 St Helens 8
Posted by cherryandwhite on October 16 2013 - 22:01

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Wigan 8 St Helens 8 - Good Friday 9th April 1993
Venue: Central Park, Wigan
Competition: Stones Bitter Championship
Kick Off: 3:00pm

WiganlBacks:l 1. Steve Hampson, 2. Jason Robinson, 3. Joe Lydon, 4. Sam Panapa, 5. Martin Offiah, 6. Frano Botica, 7. Shaun Edwards
WiganlForwards:l 8. Neil Cowie, 9. Martin Dermott, 10. Ian Gildart, 11. Denis Betts, 12. Mike Forshaw, 13. Phil Clarke
WiganlInterchanges:l

14. Andy Farrell (replaced Ian Gildart - 28th Minute), 15. Mick Cassidy (replaced Mike Forshaw - 62nd Minute)


WiganlTries:l

Martin Offiah

WiganlGoals:l Frano Botica 2

StlHelenslBacks:l 1. David Lyon, 2. Alan Hunte, 3. Gary Connolly, 4. Paul Loughlin, 5. Anthony Sullivan, 6. Tea Ropati, 7. Jonathan Griffiths
StlHelenslForwards:l 8. Jonathan Neill, 9. Bernard Dwyer, 10. Kevin Ward, 11. Chris Joynt, 12. George Mann, 13. Shane Cooper
StlHelenslInterchanges:l 14. Gus O'Donnell (replaced Kevin Ward - 71st Minute), 15. Sonny Nickle (replaced Jonathan Neill - 30th Minute)

StlHelenslTries:l

Gary Connolly, Alan Hunte

StlHelenslGoals:l

(None)

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Summary:l

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 90 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 perfect start.

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 enemies.

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!

Half Time:l

Wigan 8 St Helens 8

Attendance:l

29,839

Referee:l

John Holdsworth (Kippax)

Television:l

Delayed Coverage on Sky Sports


Top of the Stones Bitter Championship - After This Match
1st Place:l St Helens - Played - 25 - Won - 19 - Drawn - 1 - Lost - 5 - Points: - 39 - (Diff: +276)
2nd Place:l Wigan - Played - 24 - Won - 18 - Drawn - 1 - Lost - 5 - Points: - 37 - (Diff: +397)
3rd Place:l Widnes - Played - 24 - Won - 15 - Drawn - 0 - Lost - 9 - Points: - 30 - (Diff: +116)
4th Place:l Castleford - Played - 24 - Won - 14 - Drawn - 1 - Lost - 9 - Points: - 29 - (Diff: +154)
5th Place:l Bradford - Played - 23 - Won - 14 - Drawn - 0 - Lost - 9 - Points: - 28 - (Diff: +114)