SHEFFIELD have still won as many challenge cups as they have Super League games this season. The triumphant Eagles could not run last Saturday's euphoria out of their system until it was too late and Wigan gained revenge of a sort for the shock at Wembley.
The bulk of the damage was done early. Three times in the first 15 minutes at the Don Valley Stadium, Wigan opened up the Eagles with a penetration they never showed in the final. Andy Farrell, so far below his commanding best that day, was involved in all three tries.
It was his pass that released Gary Connolly to set up Tony Smith for the first and the way he dummied his way through on the outside to send Jason Robinson away with a reverse pass for the second was Farrell at his best.
For good measure, it was his towering kick that was juggled but finally touched down by Mark Bell and Farrell also landed all three conversions. Sheffield had been to a civic reception on Friday night and this was a definite case of after the Lord Mayor's Show. They at least improved the scrambling defence that functioned so well at Wembley after that, but sabotaged their own efforts by losing the ball near their line and early in the tackle count.
Paul Carr was the culprit in the 26th minute and Farrell inevitably exacted retribution, putting Danny Moore over for another converted try. Whetu Taewa raised Sheffield's spirits a notch with a rousing run to take them on a rare foray into Wigan's half. There was a faint echo of last week's glories in the way that Paul Broadbent fired out a pass for Keith Senior to thrash over.
That breath of life carried over into the second half with the Eagles finally making Wigan do some sustained work in defence. Their increased determination near their own line was also in evidence when Henry Paul's glorious weaving run put them over only for Matt Crowther's tenacious tackle to prevent him from grounding the ball.
Wigan were denied until midway through the half when Paul's final pass put Moore in for his second, before Robbie McCormack sent Kris Radlinski running clear in the last minute. Farrell maintained his perfect goal- kicking form on the afternoon, alongside Wigan's 100 per cent start to the Super League season.
They take that record into battle against the only other unbeaten side at Leeds on Friday. Their Wembley hangover is now purged although they must have wondered, as they saw Sheffield parading the Cup after the game, what happened to them a week ago.
Sheffield at least attracted an enthusiastic crowd to recognise their feat seven days earlier, and their defeat fell some way short of the humiliation that many predicted for them. The problem for their coach, John Kear, now, is to tap into the inspiration that brought them victory against all the odds at Wembley on a more regular basis.
Sheffield Eagles: Sovatavua; Pinkney, Taewa, Senior, Crowther; Watson, Aston; Broadbent, Lawless, Laughton, Carr, Shaw, Doyle.
Substitutes used: Wood, Turner, Jackson, Molloy.
Wigan: Radlinski; Bell, Connolly, Moore, Robinson; Paul, Smith; Cowie, McCormack, Mestrov, Betts, Haughton, Farrell.
Substitutes used: Gilmour, Cassidy, Holgate, Johnson.
Referee: S Presley (Castleford).Reuse content