Wigan 106 Whitehaven 8: Tomkins stars in Wigan's ton-up club on fast-track debut

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The Independent Online

Sam Tomkins will be thinking this morning that first-team rugby league is a very easy game indeed. The 19-year-old scrum-half set what is confidently believed to be a club record by scoring a hat-trick of tries within 12 minutes of his Wigan debut and he was only one of the insoluble problems for Whitehaven on a night when the difference between full and part-time players was all too obvious.

Tomkins finished with five, as well as setting up another three, while Pat Richards compiled a personal tally of 38 points.

"It was a fantastic debut," said Tomkins' coach, Brian Noble, "to score five tries is very special. Let's not get carried away, but if he carries on working hard he's a real talent."

Young Tomkins was not even the first try scorer of the evening, that distinction going Iafeta Paleaaesina. Then came Tomkins' purple patch and when Trent Barrett, Shaun O'Loughlin and Mickey Higham all added further tries by the 20th minute, it seemed that the record of 116 points against those other hapless Cumbrians of Flimby and Fothergill in 1925 could be in danger.

But Wigan blew a couple of tries when it looked easier to score and let Haven go over from their first attack when Chris Rudd kicked through for Ade Adebisi.

Tomkins turned provider with a lovely pass to send Harrison Hansen over, but the former Wigan junior Rob Jackson got one back for the Cumbrians on half-time.

Hansen, Mark Calderwood and Tomkins again, with a nice little shimmy, got the juggernaut rolling again after the interval. Tomkins then set up Barrett for his second, followed after a decent break by his hat-trick.

Tomkins' fifth was a flashy effort through a tiring defence. Calderwood and Richards, with a try to go with his 17 goals, deepened the rout before Phil Bailey and Paleaaesina completed Whitehaven's misery.

Wigan went into last night's tie knowing that victory would send them to Leeds in the quarter-finals. The holders, St Helens, are Hull KR whose neighbours, Hull, are at Bradford. The two outsiders are paired, with Oldham of National League Two going to Wakefield.

Wigan: Richards; Calderwood, Goulding, Carmont, Colvon; Barrett, S Tompkins; Coley, Higham, Paleaaesina, Bailey, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Mathers, Fielden, Hansen, Prescott.

Whitehaven: Broadbent; Adebisi, Jackson, McAvoy, Calvert; Rudd, Bainbridge; Edmondson, Mattinson, McDonald, Hill, Miller, Makisi. Substitutes used: Eildeck, Ford, Barker, Teare.

Referee: R Silverwood.

* Draw for the quarter-finals of the Carnegie Challenge Cup (Ties to be played on the weekend of May 30-June 1): Wakefield v Oldham; Leeds v Wigan or Whitehaven; Hull KR v St Helens; Bradford v Hull.

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