Huddersfield 14 Wigan 46: Noble enjoys honeymoon in traditional Wigan fashion

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The Independent Online

Brian Noble has made the almost obligatory winning start by a new Wigan coach. The trick now will be to sustain Saturday's improvement through the infinitely sterner tests that lie ahead.

Enterprising statisticians have worked out that the last 10 Wigan coaches have all opened with a victory. With Huddersfield such desperately poor opposition, not too much should be read into the latest of that series of scorelines.

There were signs, however, that in just one training session the former Bradford boss has sorted out one or two things and that his new team's prospects will be brighter as a result.

His first piece of luck was that Bryan Fletcher was available after suspension. That three-match ban and a pre-season stomach disorder that debilitated him for months have limited the Australian Test forward's influence at the JJB, but on Saturday he looked the sort of player capable of taking a struggling team by the scruff of the neck and frog-marching them up the Super League table.

Sean O'Loughlin remains the official captain, but with Fletcher calling all the shots in the middle of the field he was free to do what he does best, working on the fringes to admirable effect.

Noble tried to sign Fletcher when he was in charge at Bradford. On this showing, he will have plenty of reason to be grateful that he failed.

The other bonuses were numerous. Pat Richards has been a largely anonymous figure since his much-trumpeted arrival from Sydney but, back in his natural position on the wing, he formed a highly effective combination with the 18-year-old Darrell Goulding, a player whose first name Noble admitted to not knowing when he arrived at the club.

At half-back, Danny Orr and Dennis Moran found some of the confidence that has been missing in recent weeks. Whether they are Noble's idea of the long-term answer remains to be seen, but they were more than good enough for a feeble Huddersfield.

"Confidence is more important than talent," said Noble and you could see that vital commodity surging back into Wigan's veins.

The club's travelling supporters celebrated as though they had won Super League, rather than still being stuck on the bottom of it. "There are a lot of happy people in there," said Noble, referring more to the winning dressing-room than the away end of the Galpharm Stadium."But they recognise that they still have a lot of work to do."

Huddersfield: Donlan; Aspinwall, Evans, De Vere, Gardner; Thorman, Paul; Jackson, Drew, Gannon, Nero, Crabtree, Wild. Substitutes used: Snitch, Jones, March, Raleigh.

Wigan: Ashton; Richards, Goulding, Brown, Dallas; Orr, Moran; Seuseu, Higham, Paleaaesina, James, Fletcher, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Tickle, Hargreaves, Godwin, Wilkes.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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