Rugby League: Nervous Wigan keep on course

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The Independent Online
Wigan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

Featherstone Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . .10

WIGAN found Featherstone a rather tougher proposition in the league than they had been in Sunday's stormy Challenge Cup tie before making sure of two important championship points last night.

Despite a series of changes and playing part of the match with 11 men, Rovers gave the defending champions plenty of trouble before succumbing in the second half.

Wigan got the first points from Frano Botica's boot, but Featherstone ran in the first try through Gary Pearce before Wigan equalised when Steve Molloy was penalised for holding Lydon.

Featherstone looked more dangerous but conceded too many penalties for lying on in the tackle, Brendon Tuuta and Mark Wilson being sent to the sin-bin. After Sunday's brawl yesterday earned the clubs pounds 500 fines, half of it suspended, it provided extra controversy.

Against 11 men, gaps appeared and Shaun Edwards sent San Panapa in for a converted try close to half-time.

Featherstone were far from finished. Returned to full strength after the break, Manning went over from Tuuta's pass and Pearson succeeded with a kick for the first time.

Botica widened what had become a precarious two-point lead and they began to look a little more assured when crisp handling from Edwards and Gary Connolly gave Barrie-Jon Mather the chance to continue his productive try-scoring form.

Wigan went further towards putting their uncertainty behind them when Neil Cowie took advantage of some weak tackling to score under the posts, Botica adding his sixth goal before Martin Offiah went over in the corner with two minutes to go.

Wigan: Lydon (McGinty, 63); Robinson, Mather, Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett (Platt, 11; Lydon, 78), Dermott, Cowie, Cassidy, Farrell, Panapa.

Featherstone Rovers: Bibb; Manning, Ropati, Gibson, Simpson; Pearson, Wilson; Molloy (Burton, 21; Bonson, h-t), Southernwood, G H Price (Burton, 67), Gunn, Rowbuck, Tuuta.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).