Wigan seek pole position

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The Independent Online

There might be no prize-money and no trophy at stake, but there will be no lack of incentive when St Helens meet Wigan tonight in the match that will decide who finishes top of Super League.

There might be no prize-money and no trophy at stake, but there will be no lack of incentive when St Helens meet Wigan tonight in the match that will decide who finishes top of Super League.

This would have been a sensational piece of fixture planning in the "first past the post" era. But even now, with the play-offs to follow, it still gives the winners pole position going into the decisive phase of the season.

"We want to finish top," said the Wigan captain, Andy Farrell. "We want the reputation among the other teams as the most consistent team over the season."

With Brett Dallas brought straight back into the team after an 11-week absence with a broken jaw, Wigan will be at full strength and their coach, Frank Endacott, firmly believes that Saints will be as well.

"I bet you that Keiron Cunningham, Kevin Iro and Paul Newlove all play," he said. Iro and Newlove were both missing last week, while Cunningham went off with a recurrence of a back injury, but this is one game in which Ian Millward will want them.

Saints have beaten Wigan twice this season - a romp at Knowsley Road and a controversial late snatch at the JJB Stadium - so Endacott also takes Millward's claim that Wigan are favourites with a pinch of salt. "It's a straight 50-50 game," he said.

In tonight's other game, the former All Black, John Timu, will make his final appearance for the London Broncos, against Leeds, who are already assured of fourth place.

Salford, who had already recruited Francis Maloney from crisis-hit Wakefield Trinity, have also signed his team-mate, Warren Jowitt, another of the Wakefield players who has had his contract scrapped as a costcutting measure. Salford have also snapped up the former Warrington prop, Warren Stevens, who has been playing in Australia.

The new Huddersfield coach, Tony Smith, has made his first signing, returning to his former club, Parramatta, for Ben Kusto, the replacement at scrum-half for Gavin Clinch, who has rejoined Halifax.

Hull's Australian winger, Matt Daylight, has become the latest to use his ancestry to join his club coach, Shaun McRae, in the Scotland squad for this autumn's Lincoln World Cup. Richard Horne, David Maiden and Wayne McDonald are already candidates for the Scots squad, which will be named in Edinburgh next Wednesday.

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