Fielden sets Wigan dreaming

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Wigan's attempt to pull off the great escape is gathering momentum after they collected back-to-back wins for the first time this season. The Warriors' 30-12 triumph over Warrington on Friday night means they have accrued as many points in the last seven days as in the first four months of the season.

And, with Castleford and Wakefield both suffering defeats, Wigan now stand just four points from safety at the foot of the engage Super League. Last Sunday's crucial win over Catalans Dragons and Thursday's record £450,000 signing of Great Britain prop Stuart Fielden have created a wave of real optimism.

Their coach, Brian Noble, said: "Winning back-to-back games was one of the targets we set ourselves in training. I'm really pleased for the players."

Noble's men made the perfect start, with two tries inside the opening 15 minutes through Iafeta Paleaaesina and Nathan McAvoy, before Lee Briers created scores for Simon Grix and Toa Kohe-Love.

Only Michael Dobson's penalty goal separated the sides at the break but the second half belonged to Wigan, as further scores by Brett Dallas, Sean O'Loughlin and Bryan Fletcher sealed the points.

All eyes were on Fielden, who was named man of the match on debut, but Noble also hailed the contribution of Jerry Seuseu who, following the arrival of the Great Britain prop, is set to retire after being plagued by injuries for much of his two years at the club.

"I have got the utmost admiration for him," said Noble. "When I first came here, myself and Jerry were talking about his retirement and he has played on, not for me, but he has done it for this club. Tonight was as much about Jerry Seuseu as it was about Stuart Fielden. My respect for him is immeasurable."

Leeds leapfrogged St Helens to the top of the table on points difference thanks to a 36-20 win over Wakefield at Headingley. Former Wildcats captain Gareth Ellis and full-back Lee Smith both touched down twice but it was the skipper, Kevin Sinfield, surprisingly ignored for Tuesday's Test against New Zealand, who took centre stage, claiming six goals and orchestrating much of his side's attacking play.

NZ Test: Roberts stranger to his own team

Asked for tips on how to recognise Ben Roberts, a New Zealand official admitted this week that he might struggle to recognise him himself.

Roberts is the least familiar face in the Kiwis' squad to face Great Britain at St Helens on Tuesday, and a symbol of the difficulties the Tri-Nations winners have in getting their strongest side together in one place. Of their players in Australia's NRL, the only established internationals on the trip are Clinton Toopi and David Kidwell - plus Roberts, who turns out to be a 20-year-old half-back from the Canterbury Bulldogs with just three first-grade games behind him.

Despite being born in Sydney, Roberts always regarded himself as a Kiwi. "But I have had to pinch myself ever since I was selected. I am going to learn so much just being here with these blokes," he said as he watched the British-based players assemble at their Leeds hotel. Roberts could well partner the Kiwi talisman, Stacey Jones, for at least part of the game at Knowsley Road, provided that Jones has come safely through the Catalan Dragons' game against Harlequins.

The sad thing for British fans is that players such as Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall have not been released by their Australian clubs, but this first attempt at a mid-season Test was never going to be easy.

"It cuts both ways," said the philosophical New Zealand coach, Brian McClennan. "When we play in the southern hemisphere we have trouble getting British-based players released. We have to spread the caps around a bit."

Dave Hadfield

Comments