Sparkling tries halt predictability factor

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The Independent Online
Rugby League


Wigan 44 Workington Town 20

The unthinkable might be starting to happen at Wigan, with their adoring public becoming just the slightest bit bored with matches they know their side will win without too much trouble.

A crowd of just under 10,000 would delight virtually any other club, but yesterday was the second Sunday in a row that the gate at Central Park has failed to reach five figures - and it is a long time since that last happened.

This last winter season before the start of the Super League and summer rugby in March, always threatened to be something of a turn-off, especially with the growing certainty, confirmed by Leeds' defeat by Sheffield yesterday, that Wigan will come out on top.

Even Wigan's supporters, who have taken almost a decade to tire of mis- matches, would welcome more in the way of competition. As it is, the success of the afternoon's entertainment depends more on whether Wigan can put on a show, rather than on any real doubt about the outcome.

Those who decided it is all a little too predictable missed a sparkling hat-trick from Jason Robinson and two tries that came close to being worth the price of admission on their own.

That was certainly the case with the first, begun by Henry Paul when he picked up Wayne Kitchen's grubber kick on his own try-line. He galloped away down the right, drew in the Town full back, Paul Burns, and although he probably could have made the line himself, gave the ball to Robinson to make sure of completing a 100-yard movement.

Robinson fought his way through to squeeze in at the corner for his and Wigan's second and tries by Shaun Edwards and Va'aiga Tuigamala, plus the first four of Paul's eight goals, had them 24-2 up at the break.

Workington stuck to a hopeless task manfully enough, their scrum-half, Kitchen, wriggling through for the first try of the second half.

A pass from the excellent Edwards to Gary Connolly got Wigan back in business, but their next try was their best, starting with Robinson's bouncing run and continuing with remarkable handling, including an overhead flick on by Craig Murdock, before Kelvin Skerrett scored.

Robinson completed his hat-trick when Edwards held up the ball for him to allow him to scamper the last 40 yards, but Workington got some reward with late tries from Dean Marwood, who also kicked four goals, and Jason Palmada.

Wigan: Paul; Robinson, Tuigamala, Connolly, Radlinski (Barrow, 63); Edwards, Murdock; Skerrett, Hall, O'Connor (W Johnson, 71), Quinnell (Cowie, 23), Cassidy (Knowles, 50), A Johnson.

Workington: Burns (Penrice, 35); Penrice (Chilton, 20), Pape, Fawcett, Fraisse; Campbell, Kitchen; Schubert (McGinty, 55), Marwood, Phillips, Armstrong, Holgate (Palmada, 45), Carter.

Referee: C Morris (Huddersfield).

n The London Broncos are interested in the Wigan centre, Barrie-Jon Mather, who is in dispute with the club. Barry Maranta, the Broncos chairman, said: "We understand Barrie-Jon is a free agent and, if so, we would certainly want him in our line-up. We will do everything we can to keep him in England and to bring him to London."