Blakeley leaves Wigan red-faced

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The Independent Online
Wigan's hopes of a top-four place suffered a serious blow as Salford celebrated a rare success at Central Park yesterday.

Steve Blakeley, shown the door by Wigan, took his revenge in style with a 12-point contribution as Salford completed a Super League double 21- 14. There was also an impressive debut for the former Oldham forward David Bradbury.

Ultimately, Blakeley's four goals proved the difference, with Wigan's Andy Farrell for once having an off day and landing only one from four attempts.

There was no disguising the fact that the Warriors were well below par, looking defensively suspect and lacking in attacking ideas. To add to their worries the match produced the second lowest attendance of the season.

The Reds twice cashed in on weak defence close to the Wigan line to establish a 12-0 lead in the opening quarter. Gary Broadbent stepped neatly inside to claim the opening try, and Blakeley made the second, popping the ball up in the tackle for Peter Edwards.

Wigan produced a superb response when Farrell sent Simon Houghton clear and Kris Radlinski finished the move off. Then a three-man tackle on Andy Johnson denied the Warriors a second try just before half-time.

Lokeni Savello almost forced his way over at the other end and Mark Lee took full advantage of the position to land a drop goal. Johnson exploited poor Salford defence to put Wigan within striking distance. But the Reds hit back with Blakeley claiming their third try.

Blakeley followed that with a penalty goal. Although Jason Robinson scored a try and Farrell landed his only goal of the afternoon, it was too little too late for Wigan. For some of their fans it was also too much - a chorus of "what a load of rubbish" echoed around the ground.

Garry Schofield ensured Huddersfield's appearance in the next round of the Divisional Premiership by making one try and scoring another against Batley. The Giants easily beat Batley 26-4, the Bulldogs' only consolation being a smart try in the corner for Ashley Norcliffe.

Featherstone's 12-try victory over York kept them in the hunt for a place in the quarter-finals. Ty Fallins led the spree with 11 goals from 13 kicks and two tries for a personal haul of 30 points as Rovers won 70- 12.

Rob Campbell kept Widnes's slim divisional play-off hopes alive with a hat-trick of tries as Widnes came from behind to beat Keighley 30-17.

Whitehaven improved their chances of a quarter-final place by beating bottom of the table Lancashire 24-14. Swinton Lions also kept on course, beating Rochdale 48-18.

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