Rugby League: Smith emerges from shadows

Wigan 38 London Broncos 10
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The Independent Online
It was richly ironic that Tony Smith chose the night of Shaun Edwards' return to Wigan to step out of his long shadow.

The half-back signed from Castleford earlier this season had his best game yet for his new club and it was no coincidence that Wigan, after a shaky start, settled in to their most impressive form of a trouble campaign.

The more vocal members of a sparse Central Park crowd were already chanting for the board to be sacked before a quite brilliant piece of play from Josh White put the Broncos ahead. Taking a pass from Peter Gill, the London scrum-half showed wonderful footwork and acceleration to take him past the series of tacklers and send Tony Martin cruising in effortlessly at the corner.

Wigan's best early chance was wasted when Tony Smith made a break only to pass to Shaun Edwards, his predecessor in a Wigan shirt, but not, unfortunately for Smith, wearing one now. They did manage to open their account with an Andy Farrell penalty after Edwards had fouled his old team-mate, Terry O'Connor, at the play-the-ball.

His link with Nigel Wright starting to bear fruit, Smith made up for his earlier error with a try that demonstrated strength and resourcefulness, when he found a way through an apparently solid defence. Farrell added the goal and another when Edwards was again penalised for interfering after a tackle.

Smith, more comfortable back in his natural position of scrum-half, figured prominently in the next try, switching play to find Simon Haughton, whose power took him over.

London paid the price for persistently slowing the game down when Tony Mestrov was sin-binned and suffered a worse blow when White failed to appear for the second half after being helped off late in the first.

Even with Mestrov back on the field, Wigan extended their lead after 48 minutes, with Smith inevitably involved. It was his perfect short pass that sent Farrell blasting through. Another Smith pass, another storming run by Haughton, brought another Wigan try, before Gary Connolly and Mick Cassidy rounded off what, despite his try in the last minute, had been an unhappy return for Edwards.

Wigan: Paul; Robinson, Connolly, Radlinski, Johnson; Wright, Smith; Hansen, Hall, O'Connor, Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell. Substitutes used: Holgate, Callec. Substitutes not used: Murray, Cardiss.

London Broncos: Mardon; Roskell, Tollett, Krause, Martin; Edwards, White; Mestrov, Beazley, Dunford, Rosolen, Gill, Matterson. Substitutes used: Bawden, Spencer, Barwick, Salter.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).