Umaga's famous five sinks Town
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 22 July 1996
Halifax 74 Workington 14
The Western Samoan Mike Umaga became the first player to score five tries in a Super League match as Halifax's South Seas contingent turned up the heat on a wilting Workington.
Umaga spearheaded a display of extravagant running and handling in a match that frequently resembled a summer sevens event in some exotic location rather than the traditional slog at Thrum Hall. Playing his first full game for a month after an ankle injury, Umaga effectively decided the outcome in the first 20 minutes when scoring his first three tries. He opened his account with a 65-yard dash from a scrum, continued it by latching on to John Brewer's back flip, and then flew high to seize Asa Amone's bomb for his hat-trick.
In between, Simon Baldwin grabbed a try from a pass from John Schuster, another Samoan, whose contribution also included five goals. Graeme Hallas also scored before half-time as Halifax gave full rein to their attacking flair. All Workington could manage was a solitary reply from Lee Chilton.
Umaga scored his fourth, courtesy of Hallas's pass, within a minute of the restart. Fereti Tuilagi, the impressive newcomer Brewer, Craig Dean and Baldwin, with his second, all ran through the Cumbrian defence before Bentley grabbed his second and, at last, Umaga set the record in the 71st minute. Bentley finished with a hat-trick of his own.
The best that could be said of a Workington team that looks resigned to the inevitability of relegation after Paris' recent improvement is that they kept going and claimed two more tries.
But it was Umaga's afternoon. "I reckon Mike has been one of the buys of the decade," said the Halifax coach, Steve Simms. "He has been outstanding as a full-back, and when we were struggling at stand-off we moved him there and our improvement in form dates from that switch."
Halifax: Amone, Bentley, Schuster, Hallas, Tuilagi, Umaga, Dean, Harrison, Rowley, Ketteridge, Gillespie, Baldwin, Moana. Substitutes used: Martindale, Chester, Perrett, Brewer.
Workington: J Smith, Armswood, Chilton, Penrice, Johnson, A Smith, Kitchin, Riley, Bethwaite, Phillips, Filipo, Holgate, Nairn. Substitutes used: Wallace, Grimma, Moore, Watson.
Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).
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