Wigan's wingers trounce Bulls

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The Independent Online

Wigan strode magnificently into the Tetley's Bitter Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford next Saturday, with Bradford unable to cope with either the conditions, a tactical masterstroke or the finishing of Brett Dallas.

Wigan strode magnificently into the Tetley's Bitter Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford next Saturday, with Bradford unable to cope with either the conditions, a tactical masterstroke or the finishing of Brett Dallas.

Dallas scored a glorious hat-trick of tries, but the match was won elsewhere, Wigan coming back after last week's thrashing by their opponents in the final, St Helens, to dominate the game in midfield.

It was a miserable way for Matthew Elliott's five years as Bradford coach to end, but at least it was a change from losing key games in the last minute; the Bulls were on their way to defeat last night from the very start.

Pre-match comment in the steady drizzle at the JJB Stadium focused prophetically on the loose-forward positions.

The Wigan coach, Frank Endacott, pulled a card from his sleeve by restoring Andy Farrell to his natural position of loose-forward after he had spent most of the season at stand-off and bringing Tony Smith into the starting line-up.

For Bradford, Matthew Elliott was forced into a change as his influential Australian, Brad Mackay, was too ill to get off the team bus, and Mike Forshaw moved to the back of the scrum.

If that was first blood to Wigan, then it was almost first points to Bradford, with only Steve Renouf's tackle on Scott Naylor keeping the Bulls out after running through following a break engineered by Robbie Paul.

Having survived that, Wigan went to the other end and, on the last tackle, Willie Peters slipped through a slithering kick that Stuart Spruce could not clear, leaving the Wigan scrum-half to follow up and touch down.

There was a mirror image of that try when James Lowes put through a kick that Renouf could not reach and Naylor dived in. Henry Paul's goal also matched the one added by Farrell.

Jason Robinson, with the help of a little juggling and the video referee, put Wigan back in front and on their way to dominating the rest of the half. Smith put Kris Radlinski through a gap and Robinson just managed to cling on as he dived to scoop up the ball and slide over the line.

Farrell's kick ahead for Dallas brought the next try. Although the winger could not quite get over the line, Wigan moved the ball quickly to the left and Peters' pass sent Gary Connolly in for a try that was his last act before going off injured.

More superb work by Farrell, who surged through on a classic loose-forward's run, enabled him to get his pass away to Dallas for Wigan's fourth try. Five minutes later, Dallas was touching down again, this time comprehensively outjumping Leon Pryce to latch on to Farrell's pinpoint kick to the wing.

The theme music from Southfork rang out around the stadium when Dallas completed his hat-trick of touchdowns three minutes after the interval, when he took an extraordinary off-load from Brady Malam to race over the line.

Wigan almost seemed satisfied after that, but more wonderful handling gave Robinson his second try, with Mick Cassidy's run on to Farrell's pass providing the key ingredient of the move.

Cassidy later went to the sin-bin for interfering at the play-the-ball, but the game was so long gone from Bradford's reach that a one-man advantage was neither here nor there, even though Paul Anderson immediately ploughed over for their second try.

Wigan: Radlinski; Dallas, Renouf, Connolly, Robinson; T Smith, Peters; O'Connor, Newton, Cowie, Cassidy, Betts, Farrell. Substitutes used: Gilmour, Chester, Mestrov, Malam.

Bradford: Spruce; Vaicona, Naylor, Withers, Pryce; H Paul, R Paul; McDermott, Lowes, Anderson, Fielden, Peacock, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Boyle, H Smith, Deacon, McAvoy.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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