Wigan's late surge wears down Wakefield

Wigan 20 Wakefield 4
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Wigan Stuttered through most of the match at the JJB Stadium last night before surging into the semi-finals of the Powergen Challenge Cup with two late tries from Martin Aspinwall.

Wigan Stuttered through most of the match at the JJB Stadium last night before surging into the semi-finals of the Powergen Challenge Cup with two late tries from Martin Aspinwall.

A fiercely committed Wakefield side made this an old-fashioned cup tie and one in which the visitors were in with a real chance until Wigan managed to build some pressure late in the game.

That pressure paid off when David Solomona lost the ball in front of his own sticks and Wigan moved it swiftly to the right-wing where Aspinwall took Stephen Wild's pass to out-flank the defence.

Four minutes later, an attack seemed to have broken down on the opposite side of the field, but an extravagant long pass from Brett Dallas allowed Aspinwall in for his second and for a scoreline which rather gave the lie to Wigan's earlier struggles.

"With the ball, we were a bit off," their coach, Mike Gregory, admitted. "But we've kept an inform Super League team try-less. Our defence was the best we've had this season.''

Wigan needed that aspect of their game to be in good order in the first half. Initial impressions of Wakefield were that they were well organised and highly motivated. They had Wigan on the back foot from the start and took the lead when Jamie Rooney put over a penalty after Quentin Pongia went high on Olivier Elima.

It would have been a better lead if Trinity could have capitalised on a kick-and-chase by Jason Demetriou, but David March was stopped on the line by some desperate Wigan defence.

Even with steadying influences like Andy Farrell and Mick Cassidy back in their team after injury, Wigan were woefully lacking in composure.

Even the ever reliable Kris Radlinski was making mistakes, although it was he who scored the try that steadied them, following up Terry Newton's kick to touchdown.

Wakefield hit back through a second Rooney penalty to trail by just two points at the break, but it was Wigan, led by a powerful contribution from Terry O'Connor, who applied the pressure after the interval.

After Farrell and Jamie Field were sent to the sin bin as a full-blooded tie boiled over, Aspinwall had a try disallowed for failing to ground the ball.

His time was to come, but it was Kevin Brown's try, after Luke Robinson kicked for the corner, that turned the tide.

Wakefield were striving for their first semi-final for 25 years and their coach, Shane McNally, admitted to being bitterly disappointed that they had not seized their chances.

"We wanted to throw the miracle pass every time we had the ball," he complained. "We kept on giving it back to Wigan and eventually they wore us down."

Wigan Warriors: Radlinski; Aspinwall, Wild, Brown, Dallas; Orr, Robinson; Pongia, Newton, C Smith, Cassidy, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: O'Connor, Tickle, M Smith, Hock.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Halpenny, Ryder, Demetriou, Domic, Tadulala, Rooney, Jeffries, Griffin, March, Elima, Solomona, Wrench, Ellis. Substitutes not used: Hood, Field, Korkidas, Talipeau.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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