Rugby League: Paul forces the pace for Wigan

Wigan 38 Leeds 22
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The Independent Online
Henry Paul made a unilateral decision that there had been enough shocks in the Premiership this year, getting Wigan away to a flying start last night from which Leeds never fully recovered and then finishing them off with his hat-trick try in the second- half.

Three times in the first 19 minutes here Paul showed that he is far from a spent force, despite a subdued season by his standards.

He spotted a gap and accelerated through on a diagonal run to the line for the first Wigan try, before Andy Farrell's high kick and Jason Robinson's leap and pass out of the tackle set him up for the second.

Paul's dummy then won him space in midfield, which he exploited with a long, looping pass for Kris Radlinski to score in the corner.

Paul's incisiveness had put Wigan in the driving seat, although Leeds had enjoyed a good share of the action and had even led briefly when Richie Blackmore's pass sent in Francis Cummins.

The game was settling into a predictable pattern of Wigan doing enough to remain comfortably ahead when a wonderful Leeds try opened up some possibilities once more. Jamie Mathiou began it with a wonderful pass to Dean Lawford, whose 40-yard dash and determination to link up with his support saw the former Wigan hooker, Phil Cantillon, go over.

An equally well-worked try, scored by Leroy Rivett, brought Leeds to within four points before Paul took Tony Smith's pass to shimmy his way through again.

Paul then returned the compliment by setting up Smith and there was no way back for Leeds despite the resourcefulness they had shown for over an hour.

Jon Clarke grabbed Wigan's sixth try, although Cummins had the last word, diving through on to Graham Holroyd's kick for his own second.

Wigan: Robinson; P Johnson, Connolly, Radlinski, Ellison; Paul, Smith; Cowie, Clarke, Hansen, A Johnson, Cassidy, Andy Farrell. Substitutes used: Holgate, O'Connor, Tallec.

Leeds: Gibson; Sterling, Blackmore, Cummins, Rivett; Harris, Lawford; Masella, Cantillon, Mathiou, Newton, Anthony Farrell, Mercer. Substitutes used: Holroyd, Hassan, Hay, Field.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).