Farrell proves linchpin for Wigan

London 6 Wigan 32
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The Independent Online

A second-half hat-trick of tries from the Wigan captain, Andy Farrell, turned a stuttering performance into a deceptively convincing victory over the much-improved Broncos.

Farrell accounted for 24 of Wigan's points as they made up for a first half in which they were often second best.

Both sides came to Griffin Park for London's first Super League game there with something to prove, Wigan after their defeat by Bradford on the competition's opening night, and the Broncos' after a dreadful show at Leeds.

Both also had good news over the availability of players badly missed last weekend. The Broncos' hooker, Jason Hetherington, was fit to return and Craig Smith made his Super League debut for Wigan. If either side were to fall down on the job again, the absence of key personnel would not be the excuse. But "Craig Smith", the formidable New Zealand Test prop, turned out to be Mark Smith, the young reserve hooker.

Wigan got a flying start when Richie Barnett put the kick-off dead on the short Brentford pitch and Andy Farrell got the game's first points with a penalty.

That was to be no indication of how London would play, because they had the best of the first half by a distance. Once Tony Martin's penalty had put them level, they were always the more inventive side and thoroughly deserved the only try of the half after 21 minutes.

The normally reliable Brett Dallas fielded a kick from Hetherington but lost the ball in a heavy tackle. The Broncos moved it left and Wayne Evans got it out for Nigel Roy to score in the corner.

If London were better with the ball in their hands than they had been in their opening fixture, they were unrecognisable defensively, especially when they were put under pressure close to half time by Adrian Lam's 40/20 kick that gave Wigan the chance to attack them deep in their own territory. The way they came through unscathed was proof positive.

Four minutes into the second half, and almost despite themselves, Wigan went ahead. Barnett dropped a high kick to give them their chance, and from the resulting possession the visitors eventually contrived a way through. Farrell took Lam's pass to stretch over and added the goal for a lead they hardly deserved.

Farrell's penalty for offside stretched out the precarious lead, but it took a stroke of luck to put them in a winning position. Farrell's kick was deflected, Ricky Bibey claimed it and Terry Newton gave the final pass for Jamie Ainscough to touch down.

Not for the first time, Farrell was starting to make a win look more comfortable than it was, and when he went over for his second try, Wigan were at last in control.

Farrell's third, seven minutes from time, was a solo from the base of the scrum and Dallas made it look more comfortable with his late try.

London: Barnett; Hall, Martin, Purdham, Roy; Gillett, Moran; Stephenson, Hetherington, Cram, Evans, Toshack, Dymock. Substitutes: Houles, Marshall, Jackson, Bawden.

Wigan: Radlinski; Dallas, Ainscough, Connolly, Carney; O'Neill, Lam; O'Connor, Newton, Howard, Cassidy, Furner, Farrell. Substitutes: Bibey, Smith, Johnson, Wild.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).