Rugby League: Same again by Wigan

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles ......6 Wigan ................46

A HAT-TRICK of tries from Shaun Edwards, all set up by his new half-back partner, Martin Crompton, led Wigan to a victory last night that appeared to give the lie to rumours of their vulnerability this season.

Sheffield dominated early on in a way that was to prove misleading. They could have got more reward than a penalty from Mark Aston, awarded after Andy Platt hit out at Paul Carr, after the Australian had marked his first few minutes as an Eagle with a strong run. Aston's neat pass to Anthony Farrell looked like bringing further points, but the Sheffield hooker was stopped just short of the line. Wigan went to the other end and after Joe Lydon had equalised with a penalty, they took decisive control.

Three tries in seven minutes put their early season jitters out of their minds. Dean Bell's pass, Crompton's break and Edwards' support play did the trick for the first. Martin Offiah had no difficulty in outpacing the Sheffield cover when Dennis Betts' pass put him in the clear, and Crompton then linked well once more with Edwards for the third try.

Aston's lively half-back play was Sheffield's only real hope and it was his chip and regather that allowed Farrell to score four minutes before half-time.

It was to be a brief respite. Lydon landed a penalty and Betts scored from Bell's shrewd pass on the stroke of half-time to ensure Wigan remained comfortably ahead.

Andy Gregory is going to be the hardest of acts to follow but Crompton showed signs of establishing his own personality in his new side. His reverse pass for Skerrett's try after 50 minutes was worthy of the best. Skerrett's fierce run set up another, Lydon's pass finally releasing Platt.

The increasingly fruitful link with Crompton brought Edwards his third. The former Warrington scrum-half kicked and caught beautifully and Edwards was there to capitalise.

Crompton then gave Betts an inviting ball which brought the second-rower his second try.

Sheffield: Gamson; McAlister, Price, Mycoe, Plange; Powell, Aston; Broadbent, Farrell, Laughton (Waddell, 31), Young (Laughton, 50), James (Hughes, 24), Carr (James, 64).

Wigan: Hampson; Panapa (Robinson, 28), Bell, Lydon, Offiah; Edwards, Crompton; Skerrett (Lucas, 28), Cassidy, Platt, Betts, McGinty, Clarke (Skerrett, 39).

Referee: R Whitfield (Widnes).