Rugby League Round-Up: Wigan wise up after early embarrassment

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The Independent Online
LEIGH almost shook the First Division upside down yesterday, writes Richard Wetherell. The bottom club led Wigan 8-6 at half- time and were set to give Bradford a welcome surprise and the champions an awful shock.

Leigh went ahead Andrew Cheetham finished off a five-man move to score in the corner but Frano Botica replied with a try he converted himself. Leigh hit back when John Pendlebury and Mark Meadows put Mark Sarsfield in for a try and the two-point lead. It could have been have been even worse for Wigan as Leigh had two tries disallowed.

Not for the first time this season Wigan steeled themselves in the second half. Two tries from Martin Offiah and a last-minute effort from Sam Panapa made it 26-8 and Leigh were denied only their second win of the season.

Castleford kept up their (slim) hopes of catching Bradford and Wigan with a comprehensive 44-24 win at Hull KR. But after 30 minutes Rovers were level after the third of Mike Fletcher's penalties, two of which came when Castleford were down to 12 men with Ian Smales in the sin-bin, to counter Mike Ford's try and Lee Crooks's goal.

Tries by Richie Blackmore, St John Ellis and Ford, all coming from their famed suppport play, put Castleford in control by half-time although Craig O'Brien's try and another goal from Fletcher made the score 24-12.

Every time Hull KR closed the gap Castleford retaliated. St John Ellis scored his 31st try of the season to start the second half and Ford's third of the game finished it.

Leeds may be going well in the Challenge Cup but they struggled at home to Oldham. They were 10 points down inside the first 15 minutes after tries from Martin Crompton and Darren Abram.

Leeds then scored 26 unanswered points with two tries from Ellery Hanley and their 17-year-old substitute Paul Cook, and one from Neil Harmon.

It was another Leeds teenager, Graham Holroyd, who proved the difference. With Oldham battling to the end with three tries, his successful kicking gave Leeds the win.

St Helens face Leeds in the Cup in three weeks time and warmed up with 35-22 win at Wakefield. Their winger were to the fore. Anthony Sullivan scored three tries and Alan Hunte two.

Sheffield Eagles move up the table continued - at the expense of Featherstone - with their fourth successive win. Daryl Powell was the key. Of their seven tries he made three and scored one himself.

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