Smyth gives Warrington a hard lesson

Rugby League Warrington 0 Wigan 21
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Rob Smyth gave Warrington a much-needed lesson in finishing as Wigan kept up the pressure on St Helens at the top of the Stones Super League.

The 19-year-old winger showed how it should be done with two opportunist tries in the second half that irreversibly swung the match Wigan's way. His was a crucial intervention because, until the second of those tries, Warrington could argue that between the two 20-metre zones they had been the better side.

There is the rub; a Wigan team missing a number of its regulars and with others at less than full fitness might not always have looked its best in the middle of the pitch, but when it came to taking their chances they were peerless.

Both teams tackled admirably in a closely contested first half with only Henry Paul, who played at his own insistence despite an ankle injury, getting through for a try. Taking the ball from Shaun Edwards, Paul somehow rolled and twisted his way over the line in spite of a ring of Warrington defenders around him.

It was the early minutes of the second half that demonstrated beyond doubt Warrington's inability to take their chances with similar gusto.

In the space of five minutes, Paul Sculthorpe made a potentially devastating break only to find himself without support, Iestyn Harris's kick almost fell for Gary Chambers, Lee Penny nearly dragged himself over the line and Willie Swann spoiled perhaps the best Warrington attack of all with a wild pass.

Va'aiga Tuigamala, understandably less than his usual force after his 30,000-mile round trip this week, was turned on his back over the try line, but there was an air of inevitability when Wigan seized their next opportunity. Not that it was much of an opportunity. Smyth looked to be surrounded by tacklers on the right flank, but he used his speed and footwork to take him away from a series of lunges for the key score of the game.

Sculthorpe and Mark Forster both lost the ball in promising positions for Warrington before Wigan struck again. Craig Murdock's kick seemed to present few dangers, but Richard Henare slipped and lost his bearings completely, leaving Smyth clear to touch down.

That try did have an effect on Warrington, but not the one their coach, John Dorahy, would have wished. They began to drop the ball without even getting into a threatening position, and it was no surprise when Paul took a smart short pass from Nigel Wright and burrowed over.

Wright celebrated his return to the first team after a long series of injuries with a drop goal to add to two conversions from the occasional kicker Gary Connolly.

Alex Murphy, Warrington's manager, said: "Wigan are the finished article, whether they are fit, poorly or whatever. As for Tuigamala, I wish his plane had been hijacked."

Warrington: Penny; Forster, Kohe-Love, Roper, Henare; Harris, Swann; Hilton, Watson, Chambers, Hulme, Cullen, Sculthorpe. Substitutes: Rudd, Bennett, Knott, Finau.

Wigan: Robinson; Smyth, Tuigamala, Connolly, Craig; Paul, Edwards; O'Connor, Hall, Cassidy, Haughton, Farrell, Johnson. Substitutes: Murdock, Wright, Knowles, Barrow.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

Comments