Rugby League: Wigan gain by aiding the poor

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The game's most powerful club has thrown a lifeline to one of their most precariously-placed counterparts. Wigan have agreed to switch their league match against Doncaster, scheduled for Central Park next Tuesday, to the Tattersfield ground of the financially-troubled Dons.

Having already agreed to the re-arranged match, Doncaster asked Wigan to change the venue in order to help their cash-flow, which has been hit by the quirks of a fixture list which has given them few recent home matches.

"It's an absolutely brilliant gesture by Wigan," Doncaster's spokesman, Bryan Lamport, said. "It could be a lifesaver for us and it shows that the game is not as heartless as it sometimes seems."

Doncaster, who are in the hands of an administrator and up for sale, hope that a crowd of close to 5,000 will bring in receipts of around £30,000.

"That might not be much to Leeds or Wigan, but it could make all the difference to us," said Lamport, whose club will now play what is listed as their home fixture at Wigan later.

Wigan's willingness to play is not entirely altruistic, as the game allows Kelvin Skerrett to finish his three-match suspension before the Regal Trophy final the following Saturday. Playing away from home less than four days before a major final, however, constitutes a calculated risk.

Wigan must first play tonight at Bradford Northern, whose Great Britain centre, Paul Newlove, has agreed a two-year extension to his contract, to keep him at Odsal until the summer of 1998.

Their Welsh winger, Gerald Cordle, is to go into hospital for a knee operation, though, and will miss Wales' game against England in Cardiff on 1 February.

Doncaster, at Featherstone on Sunday, will have Brendan Carlyle, who has resolved his differences with the club, at hooker in place of the injured Colin Maskill.