Rugby League: Wigan wise to Davies

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THE FIRST meeting of the season between Warrington and Wigan this afternoon will do more than determine which side advances into the semi-finals of the Regal Trophy. It will also give the first solid clue about the likely balance of power between the pre-emiment team of the last several years and the side who could be best equipped to usurp them.

Warrington's winning run of nine matches is the best in the League, but, according to their coach, Brian Johnson, it does not represent the pinnacle of achievement for the line-up he has assembled.

'It's good to be going into a match like this with a good winning run behind us, but the side is not playing the rugby that it is capable of,' he said. The skill and opportunism of Jonathan Davies has certainly seen Warrington home on a number of occasions, but, while acknowledging his contribution, Johnson says that it is only the cutting edge of a team effort. 'Jonathan is the icing on the cake for us,' he said. 'He can't win matches for us on his own, if other players aren't doing their bit as well.'

Even aside from Davies' threat Wigan should not underestimate the craft of the scrum-half, Greg Mackey, or of Kelly Shelford, who has been in exceptional form at loose forward.

Either Sam Panapa or Barrie-Jon Mather, neither of whom has played there regularly enough for Wigan to be be regarded as a specialist centre, will have the job of looking after Davies.

Today should be the closest to a full squad Wigan have had available all season, with only Dean Bell definitely out but there are lingering doubts about Denis Betts and, to a lesser extent, Martin Offiah.