Wigan's kick-start

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The Independent Online

Widnes 12

Wigan 26

These days, it seems as if Wigan need a kick up the pants to get them going in the style to which we have become accustomed. At Naughton Park, Widnes provided the kick in the form of 10 points inside the first 10 minutes, but nemesis duly arrived with a retaliation which gave Wigan the lead by the end of the first quarter, and such domination that the only further points for the home side came from a penalty just on half- time.

In the first move of the game, Dennis Betts ploughed through flimsy tackles from Paul Hulme and John Devereux, in a 45-yard charge that was only halted by the full-back, Gary Broadbent. Widnes fought back with tries in the second and ninth minutes, when Steve McCurrie slipped the ball out of the tackle for it to be charged along for a try for Karle Hammond, to be followed by Craig Makin forcing his way over.

Adrian Hadley converted the first, and it was 10-0 to Widnes. And that the end of their hopes of preventing Wigan reaching the end of their 40th successive Challenge Cup match without defeat. Martin Offiah led the revival, and two minutes later the Wigan hooker, Martin Hall, was on the end of a flowing move. Frano Botica's goals put Wigan ahead.

The two sides exchanged penalties before the break, and the game turned round at 14-12 to Wigan. The third quarter was scoreless, but Sean Edwards and Phil Clarke finally prised open the defence to leave Betts with a clear run, and minutes later Neil Cowie took Makin with him as he bulldozed his way to the line. Botica kicked both goals, and another challenge to Wigan's domination lay flat on its face in the mud.

Widnes: Broadbent; Green, Devereux, Wright, Hadley; Hammond, D Hulme: Ireland (Makin, 71) McCurrie, Makin (O'Neill, 40), Collier, Myler (Singleton, 70), P Hulme.

Wigan: Paul (Mather, 74); Robinson, Tuigamala, Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett (Cowie, 56), Hall, Cowie (Atcheson, 30) Betts, Cassidy, Clarke.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).