Rugby League: Academy given lesson

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The Independent Online
Wigan Academy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Junior Kiwis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51

THE BEST side in Britain's fast- improving Academy competition never recovered from a disastrous start last night and were eventually overwhelmed by a team that looked the state of the art in youth rugby.

The physical power of the Junior Kiwis was too much for a Wigan side that are used to overrunning lesser teams. Within 12 minutes, they were 18 points ahead and disappearing into the distance.

Joe Vaikona began the scoring, picking up a loose ball in the Wigan 25 to power over. Joe Vagana stood in the tackle to enable Vilai Kelemete to score the second and the big prop, Bill Weepu, then bludgeoned his way through. The captain and full- back, Henry Paul, added all three goals.

A reply was overdue and it came in the 23rd minute, from Simon Haughton, who showed strength the Kiwis would have admired in forcing his way over.

Wigan also tightened up their tackling, restricting the Kiwis to one further score before half-time, a Willie Swann drop goal.

However, any thoughts of a sustained revival were put to rest when Vagana burst on to Swann's pass with such pace that he almost took the ball dead before managing to touch down for the Kiwis' fourth converted try.

A magnificent handling move then saw Vaikona claim his second and Weepu charged through irresistibly again. Wigan's demoralisation showed in a soft try from dummy half by Robert Johnson.

Jonathan Hughes, a substitute, and the winger, Dean Johnsen, scored the tries that brought up the collector's item in any grade of rugby, a half-century against Wigan.

WIGAN ACADEMY: Craig; Radlinski, Hope, Stevens, Wright (Roberts, 18); Hatton, Long; Griffiths, Cantillon, Smith, Knowles (Hilton, 53), Haughton, Wilson.

JUNIOR KIWIS: Paul (Te Atatu); Johnsen (Hokitika), Vaikona (Lincoln), MacDonald (Hornby), P Lima (Otahuhu); Noovao (Otahuhu), Swann (Marist); Weepu (Wainuiomata), Johnson (Takahiwai), Fatialofa (Marist), Vagana (Richmond), Kelemete (Poriua), Henare (Otahuhu). Substitutes: Hughes (Marist) for Kelemete, 64; Tato (Porirua) for Vaikona, 69; Manihera (Eastern Suburbs) for Noovao, 69; Faataape (Papanui) for Fatialofa, 71.

Referee: D Lewthwaite (Egremont).