Huddersfield 14 Wigan 46: Noble makes instant impression

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The Independent Online

Brian Noble's reign as Wigan coach began in triumph as the bottom side in Super League recorded their second win of the season in some style.

Huddersfield, the one team Wigan had previously beaten, succumbed meekly once more, but there were real signs that the former masters of the game have the potential to turn their season around.

Typically, the new coach refused to get carried away. "There are tough times to come and character will come through," he said. "We are nowhere near where we need to be. We will enjoy this evening, but there's lots and lots still to do.''

The match did not start well for Wigan. They have been frail defensively all season and they were opened up with embarrassing ease after two minutes when Robbie Paul's pass sent James Evans breezing past Kevin Brown for the game's first try.

In some games this year, that would have been enough to send Wigan on a downward spiral. Instead, they scored three tries in 13 minutes. Danny Orr has been one of the more obvious victims of the club's crisis of confidence, but he figured prominently.

He took Dennis Moran's pass to go over for the first try and supplied the pass to Chris Ashton for the third. In between, Micky Higham and Bryan Fletcher combined to send Pat Richards over in the corner.

Wigan were slowed in their tracks when one of their former players, Martin Aspinwall, exploited the suspect left side of their defence for a try, but they bounced straight back when Brad Drew allowed the kick-off to come off his body and back into their hands. Moran hoisted a high kick and Richards jumped above Mat Gardner for his second try. He would have had a third but for a tackle by Stuart Donlan, who went to the sin bin for holding on too long.

Wigan exploited the one-man advantage immediately, with Fletcher's pass bouncing into Brett Dallas's hands for a fifth try. Danny Tickle and Sean O'Loughlin exploited further gaps early in the second half, before Fletcher's brilliant pass to Brown set up Dallas again. Higham claimed Wigan's ninth try before Chris Thorman got a late score for an outclassed Huddersfield side, who on this showing would be Wigan's choice of opposition every week.

Noble was particularly complimentary about the contribution of Fletcher, the Australia international whose impact has been limited so far by illness and suspension. Back in the team last night, he provided the leadership that has been lacking so far this season.

"He's an outstanding person and an outstanding player. He had a big influence which was there for all to see," Noble said. "I've always been a big admirer. I tried to sign him once for Bradford, but he wouldn't come."

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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