Rugby League: Wigan and Bradford prepare for their summit meetings: Northern's composure disturbed by a controversy over the price of admission to tonight's rearranged fixture at Odsal

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The Independent Online
WIGAN and Bradford Northern, level after matching attacks of fallibility, have four days to decide which of them - or, conceivably, neither of them - will win the First Division championship.

Wigan go to Odsal tonight for the first of this week's meetings between the two without the three players injured in their shock defeat at Hull Kingston Rovers on Sunday.

Nigel Wright has not, as feared, broken his leg, but a damaged ankle rules him out along with Phil Clarke, who has a similar injury, and Paul Atcheson, whose knee injury could end his season.

'It's a terrible shame for the two kids to miss out at this stage and terrible luck for the club to lose a player of Clarke's quality,' the Wigan coach, John Dorahy, said.

The better news for Wigan is that Frano Botica and Kelvin Skerrett will return to the side, possibly alongside Dean Bell, though Martin Dermott is still not fit. Bradford, thanks to the clause that allows a reserve- team game to count towards a suspension, have Dave Watson back after a five-match ban.

Bradford's preparation has been sidetracked by a controversy about admission to tonight's match, which is a replay of the match abandoned because of fog after 14 minutes in November.

The club are charging spectators who collected a voucher that night pounds 2 for the rearranged match, but the Rugby League is furious at suggestions that this is its decision.

Bradford should have charged everyone half-price or let voucher holders in free, the League said. But, after heated discussions yesterday, Northern only agreed to drop the price from pounds 2.50.

'You can hardly get a pint these days for pounds 2 and we have costs from the original match that had to be met,' the Bradford chairman, Chris Caisley, said.

The Warrington coach, Brian Johnson, has decided against watching the match, even though his team's chance of snatching the championship from the two main contenders could depend on the result.

If Bradford and Wigan each win a match this week and Wigan drop a point against Castleford or Oldham, Warrington could take the title from Bradford on points difference.