Rugby League: Wigan lose title as Orr fires Cas

Wigan 10 Castleford 14
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The Independent Online
WIGAN'S FIRST appearance at their new stadium saw them surrender their Super League title as Castleford beat them for the third time this season.

In a tryless second half as gripping as any drama that ever unfolded at Central Park, both sides battled their exhaustion and Castleford, inspired by the example set by Adrian Vowles and Danny Orr, held on to qualify for another tilt at the game's superpowers at Leeds on Friday.

Wigan started without Gary Connolly and lost Tony Smith with a recurrence of his groin injury within 15 minutes. They still started the stronger, their longest-serving player, Denis Betts, scoring the first try at the new ground after seven minutes.

Gavin Clinch figured three times in the move before Betts came charging through the middle, a mixture of a sidestep and a stumble on the wet turf effectively wrong-footing Dean Sampson.

Andy Farrell added the goal, but it was the kicking of the young Castleford stand-off, Orr, that was largely responsible for turning the game their way.

It was his high kick to the corner that saw Jason Robinson, under pressure from Darren Rogers, only succeeding in palming the ball down for Michael Eagar to score.

Then his clever low kick to the other wing allowed Vowles to dive in ahead of the Wigan defence for a second try. Orr then added a conversion and a penalty. A kick straight into touch by Orr put Cas under pressure at the start of the second half and, from a penalty awarded against Brad Davis for holding down in the tackle, Farrell trimmed their lead to four points.

With Cas now looking weary, they conceded another penalty in the tackle, this time for Dale Fritz on Robinson, and Farrell succeeded again.

Orr eased the tension marginally with a penalty for Castleford after Betts had been caught for a similar offence and he also set the tone for Castleford's defence of their lead with some marvellous, ankle-high tackling.

Radlinski saved Wigan for the second time in the game by man-handling Jason Flowers into touch and then was intercepted by a goalpost, going for a potentially match-winning touchdown from Clinch's kick.

"It was the longest five minutes of my life," said the Castleford coach, Stuart Raper, of the closing stages.

Wigan: Radlinski; Robinson, Gilmour, Johnson, Moore; Clinch, T Smith; Cowie, M Smith, O'Connor, Cassidy, Betts, Farrell. Substitutes used: Mestrov, Goldspink, Haughton, Chester.

Castleford: Flowers; Gay, Maloney, Eagar, Rogers; Orr, Davis; Sampson, Raper, Sykes, Fritz, Harland, Vowles. Substitutes used: Tonks, Heppi, Pickering, Wells.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).