Super League leaders Wigan put on a wonderful exhibition of attacking rugby to defeat Wakefield yesterday, but the celebrations were overshadowed by a serious injury to one of their principal contributors, Amos Roberts.
The full-back was carried off and taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg after colliding with the post as he scored his 12th try of the season – a typically spectacular long-range effort.
"Everyone was cheering and it went to silence," said his coach, Michael Maguire. "It will be a blow, because Amos has been doing great for us. He's been outstanding."
While Roberts was on the field, Wigan had given a dazzling display of enterprising offence. It was 20 minutes before they dropped a ball and by then they were 18 points ahead.
"They were superb, we were poor," admitted Wakefield's coach, John Kear, who was critical of the way Wigan exploited current rule interpretations in the tackle. "They had plenty of energy left and they strangled us out of the game."
Roberts himself had begun the fun, scoring from Darrell Goulding's kick after Wigan had swept down the right flank. Brilliant handling, culminating in a near miracle pass from Phil Bailey, then sent Pat Richards over for the first of his three, the second soon arriving via a ball provided by Roberts.
When they finally got the ball, Trinity applied five minutes of pressure, but it was rendered useless by Joel Tomkins' gallop down the right, scattering defenders on his way to the try-line.
The elder Tomkins brother was also involved in the next and most spectacular of Wigan's tries, stealing the ball and supplying Roberts who, from a standing start, went 70m through a baffled defence, only to be driven into the post in the act of scoring. That understandably knocked Wigan out of their stride for a while, but Goulding scored from Paul Deacon's kick to complete a wonderful 40 minutes' work.
He was over again soon after the interval, thanks to some immaculate handling from Deacon and Sean O'Loughlin, but then Wigan rather put the cue in the rack for 10 minutes to allow Wakefield to achieve a measure of respectability. They did that with tries from Damien Blanch, intercepting Richards, and two from Matt Blaymire, both from passes from the otherwise quiet Paul Cooke.
Normal service was restored with a debut try from Liam Farrell, a member of a famous Wigan rugby family and cousin of Andy, before Richards and Goulding completed their hat-tricks and, in Richards' case, a 26-point haul.
Wigan Roberts; Goulding, Gleeson, Bailey, Richards; S Tomkins, Leuluai; Fielden, McIlorum, Mossop, J Tomkins, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Prescott, Deacon, O'Carroll, Farrell.
Wakefield Blaymire; Blanch, Murphy, Millard, Morton; Cooke, Jeffries; Korkidas, Obst, Moore, Ferguson, Kirmond, Leo-Latu. Substitutes used: Tronc, Henderson, Morrison, King.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).