Wigan Warriors v St Helens
Tetley's Super League VIII Round 6
Good Friday 18th April 2003. Kick Off 12:35pm at JJB Stadium.
CherryandWhite.co.uk Match Report by Rebecca Smith
Good Friday glory
Stuart Raper hailed this derby win the finest victory of his coaching
And it's easy to understand why. With nine regulars out injured,
he was forced to give debuts to a host of academy players and bring one in from
Orrell. Despite this, Wigan clawed back a ten-point, half-time deficit to
condemn their bitter rivals to their fourth successive defeat.
said: 'Winning the Challenge Cup is the highlight of my career as a coach but
today is the best victory I've been involved with because of the
'What's happened in the last week makes it an amazing win.
But he insisted all the plaudits should go to the players and to the
clubs medical staff.
'I'm so proud of them. We had so many young blokes
out there and blokes carrying injuries. It was just an outstanding effort,' he
The two challenge cup semi-final losers were both desperate to end
three-match losing runs. And with Saints fielding a virtually full strength team
Wigan were given little hope before the game.
As expected Saints took
control of the game early on. Inexperience, bad luck and good pressure from Ian
Millward's side meant that Wigan barely touched the ball for the first ten
minutes. Darren Albert got the first try on nine minutes after scooting round
Orrell youngster, Jon Whittle.
Paul Sculthorpe missed the conversion but
had been accurate with a penalty earlier. Terry Newton burrowed over from dummy
half to give Wigan a lifeline after 16 minutes.
Saints dominance brought
further tries from Higham and Hooper before Tickle grabbed one back for the home
side. But when debutant Jon Whittle dropped a relatively easy Sculthorpe high
kick to let Albert in for four points, it looked for all the world as if Saints
were in for an easy win.
But some wonderful defence and team spirit you
could almost touch gave Wigan the win.
Shaun Briscoe scored on 45 minutes
to close the gap to six points. Tickle converted then added a penalty to bring
the Warriors to within two points.
Terry Newton powered over for his
second try on 58 minutes to top a great personal display and put Wigan two
points ahead. Tickle was just wide with the conversion.
Twenty minutes of
sustained Saints pressure followed and yet another late Saints flurry seemed
inevitable. But for once it never materialised and Wigan's outstanding defence
Raper said afterwards: 'Deep down, I thought we were going to
be up against it. You don't tell the players that but I do think each one of
them thought they were going to struggle a bit.'
'But, once you see them
make that first tackle and the positive way they approach the game, you start to
believe. This has been building up for a few weeks. The effort has been there
but our execution has let us down.' 'Today our defence in the second half was
just unbelievable. Saints traditionally score those winning tries at the end but
we just weren't going to let it happen. Some of our last-gasp tackles were
Saints boss Ian Millward said: 'The entertainment value was
very high but we came up short with the result.'
The cancellation of
Easter Monday's game against Leeds now gives Raper's troops some valuable
Wigan Warriors 24
St Helens 22
Tries (4): Terry Newton 2
Danny Tickle Shaun Briscoe
Tries (4): Darren Albert 2 Mick
Higham Jason Hooper