Lupton leads Crusaders to historic victory

Celtic Crusaders 22 Wigan Warriors 16
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The Independent Online

Celtic Crusaders produced an amazing performance to beat Wigan Warriors at Bridgend last night to win only their second Super League match of the season.

It has not been a great season for Wigan so far, with their 34-18 thumping of Salford at the JJB Stadium last week giving them a welcome seventh victory of the season after successive losses at Warrington and at home to Hull KR in the past three games. However, they must have expected to win in Wales yesterday considering the home side were eight points adrift of second bottom Salford before kick-off.

Although the odds were stacked against the Welshmen, the Crusaders desperately needed to cause an upset or lose touch with the rest of the league. But, with a raft of injuries causing Crusaders' coach John Dixon headaches, it meant that their problems were further aggravated.

Wigan, though, found themselves behind 12-6 at half-time as the match which was expected to be one-way traffic towards the men from Lancashire, turned out to be nothing of the kind.

In the first few minutes, Wigan's huge side looked too powerful for the Crusaders and a ritual beating like they had taken in the previous few weeks was looking likely.

But the Crusaders got it right although they could have found themselves well behind had Wigan not squandered a number of chances and had wing Luke Dyer not pulled off a tremendous try-saving tackle to deny Shaun Ainscough.

Instead, the Crusaders turned on a fantastic half of rugby in which there was not one penalty conceded by either side and the Welshmen gave as good as they got. They went in front when Australian wing Mark Lennon made a decisive break down the left, passed to the excellent Peter Lupton to put scrum-half Jace Van Dijk on a 20-yard run under the posts for Lennon to convert.

Wigan hit back when second row Harrison Hansen drove over as the visitors put the pressure on their opponents inside their 25 with Pat Richards converting. But a huge crossfield kick by Van Dijk sent Lupton over near the posts and, with Lennon's conversion, the dream was on. It got better when centre Mark Dalle Cort went over for a third try just before the hour that Lennon converted.

After an hour, Wigan began to hit back with a vengeance, over-powering the Crusaders defence until it finally buckled for centre Cameron Phelps to go over near the line.

Richards, however, crucially missed the conversion and the scores were level at 16-16 with a glimmer of hope remaining for the Crusaders to hold out for a draw.

However, the roof came off The Brewery Field when Lupton, clearly the man of the match, drove over in the corner and, when Lennon converted, there was no way back for the Warriors.

At Belle Vue, Wakefield won 37-22 as they recorded a first home win over Hull in nine attempts over six years. John Kear's men last beat Hull on home soil in 2003, and will be pleased not only to have ended that sequence but to improve a run of one win in six games.

Kear was on the Hull coaching staff when Wakefield triumphed 35-28 six years ago and, although three years have passed since he was acrimoniously shown the door at the KC Stadium, he will surely have enjoyed his side's return to form against his former employers.

Danny Brough had a hand in three of his side's six tries – two of which went to Tony Martin – and scored 15 points. Hullhave now lost 10 out of their last 12 matches.

Celtic Crusaders: Quinn, Dyer, Lennon, Dalle Cort, Blackwood, Mapp, Van Dijk, O'Hara, Withers, Bryant, J James, Chan, Beasley. Substitutes used: Lupton, Budworth, Peek, Tangata-Toa.

Wigan: Richards, Roberts, Gleeson, Phelps, Ainscough, Smith, Leuluai, Coley, Riddell, Prescott, Bailey, Hansen, J Tomkins. Substitutes used: Paleaaesina, McIlorum, Fielden, Flanagan.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).