Farrell defies injury as Wigan brush holders aside

Wigan 40 St Helens 24
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The Independent Online

Wigan swept Saints out of the Super League play-offs last night, overwhelming the holders with a first half display full of highly-organised power.

Mike Gregory's side were simply too good on the night, blasting holes through the middle and out-thinking their neighbours around the rucks. Only an injury to Adrian Lam and the possibility that Craig Smith could be charged with lifting his knee in a tackle marred a perfect evening in front of a club record crowd at the JJB Stadium.

Wigan left the decision on whether Andy Farrell should defy a knee injury and play to the player himself. He decided to do so and, although he sat out the pre-match warm-up, he played a full part in the destruction of St Helens.

Although he moved gingerly in the early stages, the Wigan captain was instrumental in a controversial try that gave them the lead.

Adrian Lam launched a high kick, Brett Dallas knocked it back for David Hodgson and Farrell managed to flick the ball - forward in the eyes of all the Saints' supporters at that end, for Danny Tickle to touch down.

Three minutes later, Terry Newton ran away from his markers at dummy-half to put Lam in for a simple try. With Tickle converting both, Wigan were away to a dream start.

Farrell was also heavily involved in Wigan's third, charging through to set up the position for Newton to again get free and skim his kick off Paul Sculthorpe's desperate fingertips for Mike Cassidy.

Saints needed to be invited into the game and, with 26 minutes gone, they finally were. Wigan gave away an offside penalty and then their defence was slow to react to Jason Hooper's attack, letting him slip through for a try which Sean Long converted.

It was only a brief chink of light. On the half-hour, Newton yet again embarrassed them from dummy-half, exchanging passes with Craig Smith and sending Lam over for his second try, which the Papua New Guinean also improved.

Another four minutes and Wigan were over again, Sean O'Loughlin selling a perfect dummy to crack a demoralised Saints defence once more. Their first half misery was complete when Brian Carney seized on Paul Newlove's kick to sprint 75 yards for the sixth Wigan try.

After three try-saving tackles, Saints finally got over through Darren Smith after Long's kick got away from Carney.

The reality was that they had left themselves with far too much to do and Wigan pulled away again with Radlinski touching down from Farrell's deflected kick.

Keiron Cunningham, Newlove - in his last match for Saints - and Smith got late consolation efforts but they knew long before that this was not going to be their year.

Wigan: Radlinski, Carney, Aspinwall, Hodgson, Dallas, O'Loughlin, Lam, Pongia, Newton, C Smith, Cassidy, Tickle, Farrell. Substitutes used: Johnson, O'Connor, Robinson, Hock.

St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Gleeson, Newlove, Stewart, Sculthorpe, Long, Ward, Cunningham, Edmondson, Talau, Stankevitch, D Smith. Substitutes used: Hooper, Higham, Bennett, Joynt.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).