Rugby League: Robinson lifts Wigan to the top

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The Independent Online
Wigan 68 Leeds 14

Wigan went back to the top of Super League, but only after recovering from a dreadful first half-hour in which they were outplayed in astonishing fashion by opponents expected to provide only token resistance.

Five tries from the Leeds-born Jason Robinson were the key to Wigan's rediscovery of their true selves and it was ultimately an overwhelming win that ensured they would at least start the weekend ahead of St Helens.

Before Jason Robinson struck with a typically dazzling solo effort for Wigan, Leeds had threatened through their former Wigan centre, Kevin Iro, who slipped with the line in sight. Robinson's try would have had a demoralising effect on the Leeds side we have seen for most of this season, but their reaction last night was quite the opposite.

Nobody responded better than Mike Forshaw, once a fringe player at Wigan. First he raced on to a beautifully disguised pass from Dean Clark for a converted try that put Leeds ahead. If that was well taken, his second, after fluent approach play by Gary Mercer, Iro and Clark, was something special, the second-row forward dummying and beating the defence in stunning style.

It could have been far worse for Wigan with Clark and Adrian Morley both having Leeds tries disallowed on video evidence. It took a full half-hour and the sin-binning of Leeds' David Hulme to shake Wigan into any sort of reply. When it did come, it was predictable that Robinson should be the man to read Henry Paul's intentions and take his pass to go over.

Within four minutes, Va'aiga Tuigamala had also gone over in the corner and then the young Leeds centre Adam Hughes allowed himself to be tackled into touch and Wigan's possession saw Craig Murdock step inside two defenders to give his side a hard-earned lead.

Immediately before half-time Forshaw turned villain to throw out a speculative pass that was picked off by Gary Connolly for the fourth Wigan try in little over 10 minutes.

Robinson completed his hat-trick soon after the break, capitalising on a kick which both Marcus St Hilaire and Clark failed to clear up. It was the more familiar Leeds now and Wigan took advantage once more when Murdock cleverly touched the ball on for Neil Cowie to touch down. Connolly's second, this time from Clark's pass, involved a 95-yard dash, accomplished as decisively as his close range effort in the first half.

Even with the interruption of a mass fight that saw Martin Hall and Nick Fozzard sin-binned, Wigan's gallop continued with Robinson racing 50 yards down the left for his fourth touchdown.

Robinson's fifth came from Shaun Edwards' inside pass and Robinson returned the compliment for Edwards, who quickly added a second thanks to Paul. When Kris Radlinski rounded off the try-scoring a Wigan crowd well below the norm for this fixture wondered what on earth it had been worried about.

Wigan: Radlinski; Ellison, Tuigamala, Connolly, Robinson; Paul, Murdock; Skerrett, Hall, O'Connor, Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell. Substitutes: Smyth, Cowie, Edwards, Johnson.

Leeds: St Hilaire; Golden, Hughes, Iro, Tuipolotu; Holroyd, Clark; Mercer, Shaw, McDermott, Morley, Forshaw, Hulme. Substitutes: Brown, Hassan, Fozzard, Newton.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).