Rugby League: Offiah on target

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The Independent Online
Wigan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

Wakefield Trinity. . . . . . . . . .14

WIGAN began their spring task of clawing back St Helens' lead at the top of the First Division, and it was only in the latter stages that Martin Offiah's first hat-trick of the season broke Wakefield's spirited resistance.

With six regulars missing and four teenagers in their side, Wakefield made a commendably lively start. A lovely break and perfectly timed pass from the most obviously gifted of their teenagers, Nigel Wright, sent Andy Mason in for a try after only four minutes.

Wigan's riposte was spectacular, Jason Robinson picking up a Mark Conway kick near his own try-line and Shaun Edwards and Frano Botica linking with him for a length-of-the-field try.

When Kelvin Skerrett stood in the tackle to put Offiah over for Wigan's second, it appeared the champions were ready to assert themselves. But another superb pass from Wright sent Mark Conway on a dash for the line with the Wigan defenders leaving the responsibility to each other.

The difference between the two sides had been Botica's two goals as against Mark Conway's two misses, but Wigan made it more clear-cut when Dean Bell created a gap for Sam Panapa to score.

Back came Wakefield after the break with Wright and Mason making inroads and Richard Goddard crossing in the corner after Edwards had knocked the ball down.

Conway added the goal via the crossbar, but Wigan got two points to ease the pressure when Paul Round held down Joe Lydon and Botica landed the penalty.

Wigan finally took control in the last 16 minutes with Offiah dancing in for his second and Robinson also squeezing over in the corner. Offiah's third followed and Edwards' interception inflated the scoreline to mock Wakefield's efforts.

Wigan: Hampson; Robinson, Lydon, Farrar (Panapa, 27), Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett (Gildart, 27), Hall, Platt (Skerrett, 67), Betts, McGinty, D Bell.

Wakefield Trinity: Benson; Mosley, Mason, Goddard, Jones; Wright, M Conway; Thompson (Ward, 66), B Conway, Glancy, Flynn (Hurst, 62), Round (Flynn, 70), N Bell.

Referee: C Steele (Dalton).