Paul's haul is the difference

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Castleford 20 Wigan 42

Wigan again showed a tendency to concede more points than their coach, Graeme West, would like late in the game, but still won a traditionally tricky fixture with plenty to spare, inspired by the early example of Henry Paul.

Paul might have had an up-and-down World Cup, but he remains a hugely effective player for Wigan. It was the first two tries of his hat-trick in the opening 18 minutes that set his side on their way to a victory that widens their lead in the championship to two points.

He scored first after a bruising run from Va'aiga Tuigamala, and then took an excellent pass from Shaun Edwards to go on a beautifully balanced 30-yard dash for his second.

By the time an Edwards kick and a Kris Radlinski pick-up sent Terry O'Connor striding in for their third, Wigan were firmly in command. If Martin Offiah, who went off at half-time, had been at his sharpest, Wigan would have had more than an Edwards solo to add to their score by that time.

Castleford, who had their winger Tony Marchant taken to hospital with a neck injury, were opened up again soon after the break when Paul's jinking run set up Martin Hall.

Graham Steadman's kick and chase provided a respite, but it was a token effort set alongside Wigan's dominance. Tuigamala, beginning to rediscover last season's form, barged through to emphasise the gap between the sides and the slick combination with Edwards produced a third try for Paul who also contributed five goals in his occasional role as place kicker. Although Steadman continued his one-man resistance with a second try and Adrian Flynn and Colin Maskill both raced in for spectacular long-range tries, the damage had long been done.

Daryl Cardiss, one of a number of young Wigan players getting a taste of first team action, gave them the last word. They might just struggle by, even without Paul Newlove.

Castleford: J Flowers; C Smith, Middleton, Flynn, Marchant (Goddard, 23); Steadman, T Smith; Crooks (Sykes, 59), Maskill, Sampson, Harland, S Flowers (Schick, h-t), Nikau.

Wigan: Radlinski; Craig (Cardiss, 69), Tuigamala, Connolly, Offiah (Murdoch, h-t); Paul, Edwards; Skerrett, Hall, O'Connor (Barrow, 76), Quinnell (Knowles, 58), Cassidy, Johnson.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

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