Rugby League: Sam the Man proves an able substitute: Wigan resume their place at the top of the table with overwhelming victory over their fiercest rivals

Wigan . . . . .40

St Helens. . . .8

THE arrival of a New Zealander at Central Park made all the difference to Wigan yesterday. It was not, however, Va'aiga Tuigamala, who made the impact. That distinction fell to the rather less bulky and much less costly figure of Sam Panapa.

Wigan were trailing 8-0 and showing few signs of putting a shaky start behind them when Panapa appeared as a substitute for the injured Shaun Edwards. Within two minutes, he had begun the move that ended with another substitute, Martin Dermott, darting over from the play-the-ball and Wigan never looked back.

Their next try, the one that put them permanantly into a lead that took them to the top of the First Division, featured two remarkable passes, first from Andy Farrell to Gary Connolly and then from Panapa to put Martin Offiah in at the corner.

Panapa, an invaluable jack-of-all-trades since his modest pounds 35,000 signing from Sheffield Eagles three years ago, maintained his grip on proceedings after the break. Only one of the five tries Wigan ran in during the second half did not involve him.

Panapa began by sending Farrell striding through for a touchdown. It was also his pass that sent Neil Cowie in for his try and Panapa's break and pass to Barrie-Jon Mather also paved the way for an unusual try by Edwards. He was on the wing because injuries forced him to return despite a troublesome shoulder.

Wigan were down to 11 fit men at one stage, with Kelvin Skerrett spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin as had Connolly in the first half, but that never looked likely to hold them back, so complete was their domination by the latter stages of the game. It was fitting that Panapa should score the final try, side-stepping through gloriously for the most deserved four points of the match.

Joe Lydon's third goal, to add to Frano Botica's three, left Wigan just a point short of the damage Saints inflicted on them in the equivalent fixture a year ago.

That will be small consolation to Saints' new coach, Eric Hughes, who, even allowing for the absence of key players like Alan Hunte, Tea Ropati and George Mann, must be reflecting on how the gap between the clubs has widened alarmingly in 12 months.

Yet Saints had started promisingly, their tackling and overall commitment much more intense than in recent weeks, and their reward coming with a try and two goals from Steve Prescott.

All was set for another twist in the unpredictable history of these holiday derbies and Wigan might have started to think that it had not been such a bad idea to forget to heat their pitch overnight. But then came Panapa. For Inga the Winger, read Sam the Man.

Wigan: Lydon; Robinson, Mather, Connolly, Offiah; Botica (Edwards, 59), Edwards (Panapa, 22); Skerrett, Hall (Dermott, 18), Platt, Cowie, Farrell, Clarke.

St Helens: Prescott; Riley, Veivers, Loughlin, Sullivan; Griffiths, O'Donnell; Dannatt, Dwyer (Haigh, 41), Fogarty (Neill, 18), Joynt, Nickle (Fogarty, 50), Cooper.

Referee: J Holdsworth (Kippax).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor