Wigan's world is second rate

Wigan 10 Canberra 50
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The Independent Online
Wigan might be Britain's great hopes in the World Club Championship, but they were shown again yesterday that they lag well behind the current standard set by the best Australian sides.

Two wins over Canterbury had already guaranteed them a home quarter-final against the Hunter Mariners but, like Brisbane, Canberra have found them out twice in this competition.

It was not that Wigan did not have their moments - there was much promise in the early interplay between Andy Farrell and Tony Smith - but they were finally outgunned in the most devastating fashion.

Canberra, already effectively eliminated by their loss at London, had nothing to play for, but they turned in a sumptuous exhibition of the game's skills, particularly the ability to counter-attack from deep.

An early try form Noa Nadruku was wiped out by a brilliant reply by Wigan, Smith and Farrell combining for Simon Haughton to rip his way out of two tackles to score. Wigan even led briefly thanks to two Farrell goals but, once Ken Nagas sliced through their defence midway through the first half, the writing was on the wall.

As so often in the match, Wigan averted the initial threat when Kris Radlinski stopped the full-back, but Laurie Daley kicked for the corner before Wigan could regroup and Albert Fulivia scored.

Before half-time Nagas went over and then made the break from which Royston Lightning claimed Canberra's fourth try. Wigan had a period of pressure after half-time but never seriously threatened a try.

Instead, the silky running of Nagas took Canberra to the the end of the field and Ruben Wiki scored from Jason Burnham's pass to put the match beyond Wigan. Lightning struck twice when he went over again after Wiki had split Wigan once more, with Ben Kennedy, Nagas and Burnham underlining Canberra's overwhelming strike power before the end.

It was enough to spark one of the biggest of the periodic "sack the board" demonstrations, but all that had happened was that the gulf between the two countries had been demonstrated yet again.

Wigan: Cardiss; A Johnson, Connolly, Radlinski, Robinson; Smith, Murdock; Cowie, Cassidy, O'Connor, Lester, Haughton, Farrell. Substitutes used: Hansen, Holgate, Tallec, P Johnson.

Canberra: Nagas; Fulivai, Nadruku, Wiki, Lightning; Daley, Stuart; Davico, Priddis, Pongia, Kennedy, Furner, Clyde. Substitutes used: Burnhan, Woolford, McFadden, Croker.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

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