Rugby League: Thunder hit by Robinson

Wigan Warriors 16 Gateshead Thunder 13
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The Independent Online
A FREAKISH try from Jason Robinson proved the difference between the two teams yesterday as Gateshead came so close to a result that would truly have put them on the sporting map in the North East.

Wigan were struggling to breakdown well organised and determined opponents when Robinson made the games' crucial intervention 10 minutes into the second half. Getting under a high kick from his namesake, the Gateshead staff-off Will, he flicked the ball up with his boot and managed to take the catch and dash 75 yards for a memorable try.

"I went to catch it," said the Wigan winger, now playing at full-back in the absence of Kris Radlinski. "But it fell short and I just stuck my leg out. It's a bit of skill. I've been practising it all the time."

That fortunate, if brilliant, try, Andy Farrell's conversion and a try from Wes Davies 10 minutes later gave them a nine-point lead that was not the end of Wigan's labours.

"The most encouraging thing for us was that we didn't fold and I've seen a lot of teams come here and do that in that situation," said Gateshead's coach, Shaun McRae.

With 15 minutes to play, Craig Wilson and Craig Simon manufactured an opening for Matt Daylight to score his seventh try of the season in the corner, Ian Herron kicking his fourth goal from the wide angle.

Gateshead went desperately close to grabbing a winner, especially when one Robinson stopped the other after David Maiden had split the defence and when Willie Peters lost the ball trying to lunge over.

He had seen his side take a half-time lead, thanks to some marvellous tackling and the accurate kicking of Herron. Wigan could get over the line just once - the first of two for Davies after a long period of pressure - and the Thunder kept their noses in front through Herron's three penalties and a drop goal just before the break from Peters.

Gateshead could have extended that one-point lead when Brett Grogan made a potentially decisive break early in the second half, but the ball went to ground as the try-line loomed.

Their defence had given them the chance of an unforgettable victory, but they could not control the ball well enough in attack to take the chance.

And then there was Robinson, a bane of McRae's existence since he first came to England to coach St Helens.

"Every time I come here he does something like to me," he said. "There are only a handful of players who could score something like that."

Wigan Warriors: J Robinson; Davies, Gilmour, Connolly, Moore; Jones, Smith; Cowie, Reber, Goldspink, Betts, Cassidy Farrell. Substitutes used: Haughton, Mestrov, O'Connor, Bretherton.

Gateshead Thunder: Sammut; Herron, Collins, Simon, Daylight; W Robinson, Peters; Lee, Wilson, Green, Felsch, Hick, Grimaldi. Substitutes used: Maiden, Grogan, S Allwood.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).