Rugby League: Wigan look well on way to the treble: Eagles grounded

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The Independent Online
Wigan . . . . . . . .52

Sheffield Eagles. . .18

WIGAN'S double is destined to be come a treble if their imperious destruction of Sheffield Eagles last night is any guide to their approach to next week's Premiership final at Old Trafford.

Despite starting the biggest match of their 10-year history with a series of nervous handling mistakes, Sheffield still found the gaps in Wigan's defence to create early chances. Twice in the first 10 minutes, Paul Atcheson had to act decisively to deny David Fraisse, the Eagles' French centre.

Their unreliable handling caught up with them after 13 minutes, however, Gary Connolly kicking ahead when Lee Jackson dropped a pass, the ball sitting up conveniently for Martin Offiah to score in the corner.

Wigan's ability to produce something special undid the Eagles again 10 minutes later. Andy Farrell's backhand pass to Va'aiga Tuigamala was a superlative piece of skill and the try was almost a formality.

Within five minutes, Farrell's Sheffield namesake, Anthony, had given Frano Botica his first kicking success when he was penalised for passing off the ground. Sam Panapa, though, was penalised for kicking out in the tackle against his old club and Mark Aston put Sheffield on the scoreboard.

Wigan's third try was a chronical of disaster for the Sheffield Farrell. He conceded a penalty for taking Shaun Edwards out of the play, and then caught and lost Botica's kick when it rebounded from a post.

Wigan need no further invitation and Andy Platt's swift hands sent Denis Betts over for a score Botica improved.

There was still time for the best try of the half, Betts, Botica and Panapa putting together an 80-yard move finished in style by Offiah.

Sheffield continued to ruin some promising approach work with jittery errors and Wigan punished them yet again when Tuigamala intercepted Aston's pass and went 50 yards to score his best try yet in his new code.

Offiah completed his hat- trick when Connolly, after some initial hesitation, sent him clear. Botica was on target with both goals and landed his fifth after Aston and Edwards were sin-binned for a skirmish.

Wigan's romp proceeded with Betts claiming his second try but Ian Hughes, their substitute, finally brought Sheffield an elusive try, by going over from Daryl Powell's pass, and Fraisse swept up some further crumbs of consolation after Botica had crossed for Wigan. Botica's second brought up the half-century and his kick completed a personal tally of 24 points before Sheffield's Brad Hayes scored in the last minute.

Wigan: Atcheson; Tuigamala (Robinson, 51), Panapa, Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Cowie (Cassidy, 51), Hall, Platt, Betts, Andy Farrell (Cowie, 67), Clarke.

Sheffield Eagles: Hayes; Stott (Carr, 67), Price, Fraisse, Plange; Powell, Aston; Broadbent, Jackson (Laughton, 29), Cook, Carr (Hughes, 55), McGuire, Anthony Farrell.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).

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