Rugby League: Few witness Wigan advance

Wigan Warriors 28 Sheffield Eagles 0
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The Independent Online
WIGAN MOVED to third place in the Super League last night, their best position since the early weeks of the season, but they will be concerned that their home gates are moving in the opposite direction. Attendances at Central Park have been showing a steady decline and last night's 6,005 was the worst of the year and well below any realistic break-even figure for such a big club.

Those who stayed away - and for once they did not have the option of watching on television - missed one of their side's more convincing performances. An Eagles outfit handicapped by the early loss of their main tactician and kicker, Mark Aston, never looked like standing up to a business-like Wigan effort, in which Tony Smith thrived behind a dominant pack and Wes Davies added to his growing reputation with two more tries.

Wigan had the benefit of the ideal start, taking the lead after five minutes when Tony Smith kicked on the last tackle towards a wing left open by Dale Cardoza drifting inside. Davies exploited the space to the full by taking the catch and making the touchdown.

Much of Wigan's best work was based around hard running in the forwards. Terry O'Connor, Jon Clarke and Simon Haughton all contributed to creating the position from which Kris Radlinski found a gap in the Sheffield defence after 16 minutes and this time Gary Connolly added the goal.

Wigan also had their share of defending to do, but Sheffield's best chance came when Cardoza picked up a loose ball and headed for the try line 90 yards away. The wing man was caught by Lee Gilmour, who is, nominally at least, a second-row forward.

Seven minutes before halftime, Connolly, making a good fist of the unfamiliar position of stand-off, slipped a pass out of the tackle and the substitute, Mark Reber, raced in.

Wigan made the game safe after 14 minutes of the second half, Mick Cassidy running on to Radlinski's pass and striding through for their fourth try. Almost immediately, Connolly won possession from Smith's high-kick and fed the ball on for Danny Moore to score.

Davies then claimed his second, with Neil Cowie and Tony Mestrov doing the preparatory work. Another substitute, Phil Jones, took over the kicking duties and duly tagged on the goal.

Wigan Warriors: Radlinski; Robinson, Florimo, Moore, Davies; Connolly, Smith; Cowie, Clarke, O'Connor, Gilmour, Haughton, Cassidy. Substitutes used: Jones, Johnson, Mestrov, Reber.

Sheffield Eagles: Pearson; Cardoza, Lovell, Senior, Sodje; Hardy, Aston; Laughton, Lawless, Molloy, Shaw, Anderson, Doyle. Substitutes used: Thorman, Baldwin, Teixido, Turner.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).