Bradford 34 Wigan 12: Wigan losing way in Pea Souper League

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The Independent Online

Wigan slumped to the bottom of Super League on points-difference last night, suffering their sixth defeat in their opening seven games in near farcically foggy conditions at Odsal. Relegation is a real possibility for the famous old club who went into the new summer era in 1996 on the back of seven consecutive titles.

Already in command at the interval Bradford piled on the agony with a Marcus Bai try 70 seconds after the re-start and further scores from Chris McKenna and Lesley Vainikolo. Though Wigan found a response with a Pat Richards try on the hour the swirling fog merely served to conceal their worrying limitations.

Rugby league has been played at the huge Odsal bowl for 72 years and tales of the stadium's unique micro climate have long gone down in local legend. Another chapter was added as this Super League game proceeded in conditions not far short of an old-fashioned pea souper, play on the far side being barely discernable for the spectators. Pea Super League indeed.

"Bottom is not an issue after game seven," said Ian Millward, the Wigan coach. "It will be a cruel game if we finish bottom at the end of the season. The position is a reflection of our inconsistency and that things are not going quite our way. But now is not the time to panic."

Wigan's early fragility in defence effectively decided the contest. Just six minutes had elapsed when Iestyn Harris's sharp pass sent prop Andy Lynch charging through for the opening try. Then Iestyn Harris launched a high kick to the corner that Bai knocked back for Ben Harris to plough his way over. Wigan's army of fans saw the irony in the situation. "Off, off!" they chanted in a vain attempt to persuade referee Ronnie Laughton to bring proceedings to a close as the visibility worsened.

Briefly, Wigan rallied when Sean O'Loughlin's angled run broke the close-range Bulls defence. But Bradford were soon back in control, as Shontayne Hape pounced in the mist-enshrouded left corner after Stanley Gene's grubber kick and Karl Pryce added another as the Bulls secured a 20-6 interval lead.

"We were competent," said Bradford coach Brian Noble. "We did enough and were strong in parts. Both sides were manful but we were too big and too strong."

Bradford: Withers; Bai, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Gene; Fielden, Henderson, Lynch, Cook, McKenna, Langley. Substitutes used: Vagana, Ferres, Watene, Pryce.

Wigan: Ashton; Calderwood, Richards, Vaealiki, Dallas; Orr, Moran; Seuseu, Higham, Hargreaves, Tickle, Fletcher, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Wilkes, Prescott, Godwin, Jonkers.

Referee: R Laughton (Dodsworth).

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