Tuigamala makes the rules

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The Independent Online
Wigan 32 Halifax 18

The game has altered its rules, but it took the introduction of a man who writes his own to transform this match, writes Dave Hadfield. Va'iga Tuigamala, named only as a substitute after gashing his knee at weekend, came on as Wigan were struggling to come to terms not with an amended rule book but a tenacious Halifax.

Two tries from the former All Black and one created by his combination of power and poise put paid to any idea that the changes within the game would extend to Wigan losing to a club side at Central Park for the first time in almost two years.

The first clue that here was a game which had changed some of its essentials did not come until Wigan kicked off after scoring their first try, a short- range effort from Martin Hall at dummy-half.

Halifax's reply could hardly be attributed to the way that the new regime gave them the ball back, because it took them 10 minutes and several exchanges of possession before Damion Munroe touched down in the corner from Craig Dean's kick.

Wigan extended the two-point lead with which they had been left, spurning a goal-kick after Abi Ekoku had been sent to the sin bin for Henry Paul to bounce over from Shaun Edwards' pass and then kick his second goal. Back came Halifax again, Simon Baldwin this time scoring from Martin Ketteridge's kick through, Asa Amone adding the goal.

Halifax broke an unwritten law of the game when they took the lead soon after the interval, Fereti Tuilagi going through two tackles to score. Four minutes later they were in again, Wayne Parker releasing Baldwin for his second try.

It took Tuigamala, their saviour at Widnes on Saturday, to spark Wigan. Within six minutes of coming on, his converted try brought Wigan level. A blind back-flipped pass from Kelvin Skerrett produced a try for Gary Connolly that put them back into the lead.

And Tuigamala put it beyond doubt, banishing a succession of would-be tacklers from his presence down the right touchline after Paul had made the initial inroads. Tuigamala's pass then gave Johnson a try as Wigan finished firmly in command.

Wigan: Paul; Robinson (Smyth, 79), Radlinski, Connolly, Offiah; Edwards, Murdock (Tuigamala, 47); Skerrett, Hall, Cowie (O'Connor, h-t), Quinnell (Haughton, 27), Cassidy, Johnson.

Halifax: Amone (Briggs, 67); Ekoku, Tuilagi, Anderson (Highton, 54), Munroe; Dean, Parker; Harrison, Rowley, Ketteridge, Jackson, Gillespie (Perrett, 47), Baldwin.

Referee: Cummings (Widnes).