Wigan off the mark

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The Independent Online
Wigan began the job of restoring British pride in the World Club Championship with a morale-boosting 22-18 victory at Canterbury yesterday.

Britain's most experienced side in international competition became the first in this tournament to beat southern hemisphere opposition, after building up a 22-0 lead at Belmore. Jason Robinson scored two tries and Simon Haughton and Andy Johnson one each as Wigan took all their chances and Canterbury missed theirs.

However, Wigan were hanging on anxiously at the end as their travel schedule, their defensive workload and the loss of their captain, Andy Farrell, with a hamstring injury all caught up with them.

Canterbury scored three converted tries in the last 15 minutes, but Wigan's tackling, led superbly by Gary Connolly and Mick Cassidy, saw them through. "There was a lot of British pride out there," Cassidy said. "We knew we had to come here and carry the flag for Britain."

Those sentiments were echoed by the Wigan coach, Eric Hughes, who said: "The British game needed that."

Perhaps the most relieved man, though, was the chief executive of European Super League, Maurice Lindsay, who must have been embarrassed by the woeful efforts of some other English clubs over the weekend. "It's wonderful that we are off the mark," Lindsay said. "I hope that victory will inspire all our teams to more successes."

The Auckland Warriors' centre, Anthony Swann, will face a disciplinary panel this morning after the League decided that he has a case to answer over the use of a knee on St Helens' Andy Haigh on Friday.

Swann will be charged with striking an opponent and could be ruled out of the rest of the British phase of Auckland's tournament if he is suspended. Auckland are also being warned about their technique of playing the ball and back-chatting to the referee.

Haigh, who was taken to hospital for a check-up after the incident with Swann, does not have a broken cheekbone. He has severe bruising, but will be fit for the game against Cronulla on Monday.

Leeds Rhinos are hoping to forge a commercial link with North Queensland Cowboys. Gary Hetherington, the Leeds chief executive, wants his marketing department to exchange ideas and personnel with their counterparts at the Townsville-based club.