Wigan's hopes hang on the Wire

Wigan 78 Workington Town 4
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The Independent Online
St Helens now know exactly what they have to do tomorrow.

Despite Wigan's highest score of the season, Saints only need to beat Warrington to deny them rugby league's championship for the first time since 1989, something that will quickly consign this easy accumulation of points to irrelevance.

It is impossible not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Workington, the fall guys this season for the Super League's determination to retain its European dimension, in the shape of Paris. While the French side have been given every assistance to survive, the importance of having a flagship in a heartland area like West Cumbria has been conveniently forgotten.

Already doomed to relegation, Town had nothing but a little pride to play for last night, although they put together some presentable rugby in the few minutes before they gave Wigan an open invitation to take control.

It came from their stand-off, Butch Fatnowna, whose risky pass was intercepted by Va'aiga Tuigamala, and Henry Paul eventually took Andy Farrell's cleverly delayed pass for the first of his two quick tries. Paul's second came from an equally good ball served up by Gary Connolly, who also helped to set up a try for Jason Robinson midway through the half.

Shaun Edwards, back in the starting line-up for the first time in a month, then broke through some weak tackling to send Farrell away as the game resolved itself into the procession it had always threatened to be.

Robinson bounced out of a series of tackles to present the substitute, Steve Barrow, with another try, and some spectacular handling then paved the way for Simon Haughton to go over.

Edwards' simple little pass soon gave Barrow his second and it was exhibition stuff by the time Danny Ellison went over just before half-time. Edwards' chip kick bounced up into the arms of Paul, to give the Bath-bound New Zealander the first hat-trick of the evening.

Workington's hopes of stemming the tide seemed to recede further when Brad Nairn was sin-binned for obstructing Robinson, and sure enough, Barrow went over immediately to become the night's second hat-trick man.

Haughton was the next to underline the woeful mismatch that this had become. Barrow also provided the pass for Edwards to score, with Tuigamala soon gifting him his second, and Tuigamala adding a goal to those previously kicked by Farrell.

Workington at least deserve some credit for keeping going sufficiently to claim their one try, set up by Fatnowna for Mark Johnson, but Robinson's try and Tuigamala's goal took Wigan past the 76 points scored against Paris, even if the prediction of the St Helens coach, Shaun McRae, that they would score 80 proved marginally beyond them.

McRae would not have cared if it had been 180 points; he knows that a one-point win over the Wire tomorrow will be enough for him.

Wigan: Radlinski; Ellison, Tuigamala, Connolly, Robinson; Paul, Edwards; Cowie, Hall, O'Connor, Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell. Subs used: Barrow, Murdock, Skerrett, A Johnson.

Workington Town: Penrice; Wallace, M Johnson, Allen, Chilton; Fatnowna, Kitchin; Riley, Bethwaite, Phillips, Nairn, Filipo, Carter. Subs used: Whalley, J Smith, Marwood, Stamper.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).