Rugby League: Record run for Sheffield

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles. . .10

Wigan. . . . . . . . .5

Wigan must have heard dreadful reports about Brisbane in early June, because they seem determined not to go.

Sheffield's first-ever victory over the league champions consigned Wigan to their second defeat within a week. The title and the opportunity to play the Brisbane Broncos for the World Club Challenge is galloping away from Wigan, who were once more in the flat, uninspired mood that seems to be all they are capable of producing when they are on standard rates of pay.

Even when Sheffield trailed by a single point at half-time the Eagles, much like St Helens on Saturday, must have wondered how.

They had produced all the ideas and enterprise and only some desperate defence, with Paul Atcheson particularly prominent, and one superb Shaun Edwards tackle on Lee Jackson had kept them tryless.

Their only points came from two Mark Aston penalties, leaving Wigan with a precarious lead courtesy of a try set up by Andy Farrell's long run and Atcheson's pass to Gary Connolly, plus a Frano Botica drop goal.

The decisive moments for a Sheffield side who have now established a club record of six First Division wins in succession came seven minutes into the second half. Aston put up a high kick which Jason Robinson, one of several illustrious Wigan stars to have a thoroughly miserable afternoon, lost under pressure from Mark Gamson's tackle.

Aston followed up to touch down and add the conversion to monopolise Sheffield's scoring. Although the Eagles sometimes lived dangerously thereafter, they deserved to hang on.

A Wigan side beaten at Hull on Wednesday belatedly stepped up the pace, creating a couple of half chances which the Sheffield defence swarmed around to keep them out.

It was a fair reflection on the balance of play that it was Sheffield who went closer to further tries, when Richard Picksley was tackled out at the corner by Connolly and Gamson got over the line only to be turned on to his back.

Sheffield Eagles: Gamson; Picksley, Price, Fraisse, Plange (Stott, 31); Powell, Aston; Broadbent, Jackson, Cook, Carr (Hughes, 40; Carr, 69) McGuire, Farrell.

Wigan: Atcheson; Robinson, Tuigamala (Leydon, 32; Tuigamala, 66), Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Cowie (Skerrett, 59), Dermott, Platt, Cassidy, Farrell, Panapa.

Referee: D Atkin (Hull).

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