Radlinski rampant in Wigan rout

RUGBY LEAGUE
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Leeds 12

Wigan 69

Even by the standards Wigan have set on their annual rampage this was something special.

A landmark performance in every respect saw them record the biggest win in a Premiership final, indeed the biggest in the final of any major competition.

On the day that Frano Botica, one of three cornerstones of the current team bidding farewell, broke the club record for goals in a season, a new hero emerged.

Kris Radlinski became the first player to score a hat-trick in a Premiership final and the youngest to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match.

Amid all the statistics the spectacle was even more startling. Leeds, incredible as it might sound, played better than they did at Wembley three weeks ago.

The rout began early with Jason Robinson running back a Graham Holroyd kick and fingertip handling on the last tackle ending with Radlinski scoring his first try.

After a brief interlude which saw Richard Eyres complete a unique family double by emulating his brother Andy's try in the Second Division final, Wigan really went to town.

Another Holroyd kick returned with devastating effect saw Andrew Farrell send in Kelvin Skerrett and then Shaun Edwards drew in the defence to give Radlinski his second.

Robinson and Botica then sent Gary Connolly charging away for his first, quickly followed by another from Henry Paul's pass. Superb passing from Phil Clarke and Martin Hall gave Edwards a try before half-time and Wigan were well on their way.

Radlinski, his tackling just as good as his opportunism, pursued Paul's kick for his hat-trick and Denis Betts exchanged passes with Robinson for a try to mark his last game for the club.

Paul went over for a well deserved touchdown before Connolly became the second man to score a Premiership final hat-trick. A try from Hall, a drop goal from Farrell that qualified as satirical and a storming 45-yarder from Simon Haughton completed the damage with Botica's 10th goal equalling the record for a final.

It was a superlative Wigan performance. Nobody, and that includes the best Australian club sides, would have beaten them on the day. But as Clarke, the third of their departing luminaries, put it: "Doing this to the second best team in the country makes you wonder about the strength of the game here."

Leeds: Tait; Fallon, Iro, Hassan (Vassilakopoulos h-t), Cummins; Innes, Holroyd; Howard (Harmon, 29-53), Lowes, Faimalo, Mann, Eyres, Mercer.

Wigan Paul (Farrell, 59); Robinson, Radlinski, Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett (Cassidy, 20), Hall, Cowie, Betts, Farrell (Haughton, 49) Clarke.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

Cougars flex muscles, page 28

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