Farrell reaches ton to inspire Wigan

Bradford 22 Wigan 35
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Wigan's first win over Bradford for more than three years lifted them to third in the Super League, with influential contributions from Andy Farrell and Adrian Lam, instrumental in one of their most satisfying wins of the season so far.

Farrell got off his sick bed after being unable to train all week with 'flu to score a try and kick eight goals, while a rare hat-trick of drop goals from Lam proved to be of great strategic value as the game went on. They helped to ensure another rarity - two home defeats in a row for the Bulls, following London's victory at Odsal two weeks ago.

"We didn't handle the first half very well and we gave ourselves too big a hill to climb," admitted the Bradford coach Brian Noble, while his Wigan counterpart Stuart Raper conceded that his side's recent lack of success against the Bulls made this a special achievement. "A couple of our wins this year have been very emotional, but this was a more satisfying win," he said.

Bradford were dreadful in the first half and Wigan took advantage by completing dominating proceedings. Farrell started with the first of his goals, before Nick Graham was credited with a controversial try by the video referee after Lesley Vainikolo appeared to have touched down for the Bulls.

Lam's 40/20 kick and Terry Newton's sharp pass set up Farrell for his 100th try for the club, before the first of Lam's drop goals went on to increase Wigan's lead to 15 points.

The first set back for Wigan came with the sin-binning of Danny Sculthorpe for holding down Rob Parker, with Bradford taking advantage of their one-man advantage by scoring through Robbie Paul. But Wigan hit back almost immediately, with Farrell's kick taking a looping bounce off a defender and Danny Tickle launching himself to pluck it out of the air and touch it down.

Two more Farrell goals and a drop from Lam made it a convincing lead at half-time, but Bradford at least showed more urgency after the break, with Paul Deacon scoring from James Lowes' break. Joe Vagana also forced his way over, but Deacon's badly missed conversion and two more penalties from Farrell, as the Bulls' discipline became ragged, kept Wigan in control.

Bradford's last flurry came when Shaun Briscoe made his one mistake of the match, misjudging a kick to allow Daniel Gartner to score, but Lam immediately took out insurance by completing his hat-trick of drop goals. In the last minute, Graham put the issue beyond any doubt with his second try. After beating the Super League favourites in such a convincing manner, the question now is whether Wigan could defy all the early season predictions by taking the title themselves.

Bradford: Paul; Vaikona, Naylor, Hape, Vainikolo; Pryce, Deacon; Vangana, Lowes, Gartner, Gilmour, Peacock, Forshaw.

Subs used: Pratt, Radford, Parker, Moore.

Wigan: Briscoe; Carney, O'Loughlin, Aspinwall, Hodgson; Graham, Lam; C Smith, Newton, O'Connor, Cassidy, Hock, Farrell.

Subs used: Pickle, Sculthorpe, Robinson, Brown.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).