Rugby League: Edwards' tries inspire rout

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Swinton. . .0

Wigan. . . 78

SHAUN EDWARDS equalled Martin Offiah's club record of 10 tries in a match - one try short of the all-time record achieved by George West of Hull Kingston Rovers against Brookland Rovers in 1905 - as Wigan ran riot in their Lancashire Cup tie at Gigg Lane last night. Edwards' extraordinary support play brought him four tries in the first half and six in the second, as the realisation dawned that he could match Offiah's feat against Leeds in May.

'Backing up is one of the strengths of my game,' he said with some understatement. 'If players make a break and I'm not there, they want to know why, although it can be harder to do from scrum-half than from stand-off.'

Some of Edwards' tries were so similar to each other that it seemed he could be running them off on a photocopier. Within 19 minutes of the start he had a matching hat-trick to his credit, the result of following Andrew Farrar, Steve Hampson and Joe Lydon on their various breaks through the porous heart of the Swinton defence.

The impressive young utility player, Jason Robinson, helped him to his fourth and the substitute, Phil Clarke, laid on his fifth after half-time. However, Edwards' sixth try was the best of all, the product of glorious handling in the back line. With his seventh and eighth following with 10 minutes still to go and Swinton abandoning any pretence of resistance, he was within sight of the record.

His ninth came in the 75th minute and he had Dean Bell to thank for the touchdown that brought him level with a feat that few ever thought to see matched. Bell held the ball up in front of the sticks for Edwards to arrive, Edwards has promised to do the same for him if he ever gets to nine tries in a match.

Offiah was by now off the field, helped away in the 46th minute with a knee tendon injury which, with the World Cup final looming, will be as a big a worry to Britain's coach, Malcolm Reilly, as Edwards' haul will be an encouragement.

Offiah had helped himself to one try, although Wigan rarely needed to move the ball as far as the wing, with Bell, Sam Panapa and Robinson also contributing to the worst defeat in Swinton's 96-year history.

Swinton looked a side with desperate problems on the field as well as off it. They will have decided by the end of the week whether to appoint an administrator to run their financial affairs. If he can bring his own boots it will help.

Swinton: Wilkinson; Leyland, Daintith, Kennett, Ratu; Hibberd, Kay (Errington, 17); Parr, Garner, Barrow, Pickavance, Whitfield, Allen.

Wigan: Hampson (McGinty, 58); Lydon, Bell, Farrar, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett, Crompton, McGinty (Platt, 40), Betts (Clarke, 40), Panapa, Robinson.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

French face Wigan, page 35