Tuigamala puts Eagles to flight

DAVE HADFIELD

Sheffield Eagles 24 Wigan 36

Sheffield Eagles' nine-match winning habit, which had seen them beat every other team in the division, finally cracked on contact with Wigan, and Va'aiga Tuigamala in particular.

The Eagles gave the Stones Centenary champions a stirring fight but could never control the Western Samoan, who scored two tries and contributed to three others.

A Wigan side without five of the players who won the Regal Trophy last week were rocked by the welcome Sheffield gave them with a third-minute try from dummy-half by John Lawless.

It took smart work from the game's other hooker, Martin Dermott, in a rare first-team start, to bring Wigan level, his reverse pass sending in Tuigamala who, five minutes later, also paved the way for Mick Cassidy to go in.

The Eagles' inability to cope with Tuigamala's power caught them out again when he took Martin Offiah's pass to plough over. And when Kris Radlinski went half the length of the field to score despite being caught on the line by Joe Dakuitoga, Sheffield's long run of success was rapidly running out.

Ryan Sheridan struck back, selling a dummy to breach the Wigan defence and keep the Eagles in the hunt at half-time but eight minutes after the break yet another Tuigamala charge set up the position from which Henry Paul was able to dart over.

Sheffield could still have got back into it if Paul Carr had not dropped the ball reaching over the line to touch down. Instead, one of Wigan's young reserves, Andrew Johnson, produced a classical run and pass to provide Offiah with his 27th try of the season, although Lynton Stott raised Sheffield's spirits a little by following up Sheridan's kick to score.

The admirable Sheridan soon went through for another Sheffield try, David Mycoe's fourth goal bringing them back within range of the champions, but then Tuigamala finished them off, another surging run setting up Rob Smyth.

Sheffield Eagles: Ganson (Sovatabua, 65); Dakuitoga, Stott, Garcia, Sodje; Mycoe (Price, 72), Sheridan; Broadbent, Lawless (Hughes, 31), McAllister (Dixon, 47), Hay, Carr, Cook.

Wigan: Radlinski; Smyth, Tuigamala, Craig, Offiah; Paul (Cardiss, 63), Robinson; Cowie (Baines, 74), Dermott, O'Connor (Knowles, 57), Barrow, Cassidy (Houghton, h-t), Johnson.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).

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