Troubled Wigan hold on
Wigan 34 Halifax 26
Saturday 27 July 1996
No Offiah, no Edwards and a sparse crowd that spoke eloquently for their public's disillusionment; it should have been a good night to play Wigan, and for 15 minutes it was.
A first-minute break by Simon Baldwin caught Wigan cold and the resulting penalty for offside allowed John Schuster to give Halifax the lead.
Wigan then looked over-anxious in their opponents' quarter until Henry Paul settled their nerves with a flashing pass to send Kris Radlinski over. Four minutes later, Mick Cassidy's break and inside pass released Danny Ellison, but Wigan continued to look uncertain when Schuster found a big hole in their defence to reply.
But then Gary Connolly spotted a gap for one try and then took Andy Farrell's pass to set up Va'iaga Tuigamala for another.
A minute into the second half, Halifax's unreliable defence let them down again, Mike Umaga and John Bentley making a hash of Paul's bomb to allow the kicker to follow up and score.
If that was a gift, Wigan's next was thrilling, Tuigamala's run sending in Craig Murdock.
A Halifax reply from Craig Dean prompted an outburst of chanting against the Wigan board. There will surely be rioting in the streets if Wigan ever begin to lose matches, as well as star players, on a regular basis.
Fereti Tuilagi laid one try on for Baldwin and then reached over to score one of his own as Halifax came back to within eight points.
With 13 minutes to play, another try could have made an interesting week at Central Park even more interesting, but Wigan had just enough in reserve to emerge unscathed.
Wigan: Radlinski; Robinson, Tuigamala, Connolly, Ellison; Paul, Murdock; Cowie, Hall, O'Connor, Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell. Substitutes: Skerrett, Barrow, Craig.
Halifax: Amone; Bentley, Schuster, Hallas, Tuilagi; Umaga, Dean; Harrison, Rowley, Ketteridge, Gillespie, Baldwin, Moana. Substitutes: Martindale, Highton, Perrett, Brewer.
Referee: R Smith (Castleford).
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