RFL Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Challenge Cup Final 2002: Wigan Warriors 21-12 St Helens At Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland Att: 62,140 (near capacity) The Wigan Warriors today produced a superb performance to overcome last years cup holders St Helens by 21 points to 12 in Scotland. Wigan have been under an enormous amount of pressure over the last few years ending a four year trophy drought after defeating Saints today. Wigan took a quick 12-0 lead although it could just have easily gone St Helens way when Tim Jonkers found a gap in the corner but fullback Kris Radlinski produced a try saving tackle. The Great Britain international was a doubt leading up to the match in hospital due to an infection caused by athletes foot. It was Wigan who scored the opening try through Australian wingman and former Brisbane Broncos star Brett Dallas scoring in the corner after a great combination of passing from Wigan which saw Lam throw a long ball out wide to Irish & British Lions centre Gary Connolly ending up in the safe hands of Dallas 10 metres out from the try-line. Farrell the captain converted in style. Five minutes later scrum-half and Papua New Guinea Kumul international Adrian Lam scored next to the sticks after some wonderful tricks by the Warriors to give Wigan a 10 point lead, converted by Lions captain Andrew Farrell seconds later to extend that to 12 points, and this, just 15 minutes into play. It was looking bad for the 2001 world club champions, very bad but they came back in typical fashion. Sean Long put up a tremendous bomb kick caught by Aussie speedster Darren Albert in the far corner on 22 minutes. Minutes later the Saints could have scored again when Keiron Cunningham's effort underneath the sticks was a 'no try' by the video referee but Saints pressure paid off as they scored again, this time through future star and former Wigan player Gleeson, in the same right hand corner as their first try, at 31 minutes. Sadly for the watching St Helens fans, England international Sean Long missed his second conversion of the game. At half time it was 12-8 to the former cup kings, Wigan, who last won the Challenge Cup in 1995 against Leeds. St Helens were under huge amounts of pressure to show just how good they are in the second half, they were massive favourites to win the final before the kick-off. The second half was again, dominated by Wigan but Saints made sure they put up a fight. Wigan were the first to score again, on the 51st minute through Great Britain and Ireland ace Gary Connolly after mistakes by Saints and the world's best hooker Cunningham, the Welsh international looked to have given up when former North Queensland Cowboys star Julian O'Neil got past the Saints defence to pass the ball onto Paul Johnson ending up in the hands of Connolly to cross over for his first try of the final. St Helens were becoming desperate as the Warriors looked to have sealed an early win, Saints were not their usual calm and collective outfit who comeback with ease, they looked rather dogged and rusty with many of their star players missing out on last week's defeat by Bradford Bulls at Valley Parade. Nevertheless, the St Helens side did score, at 60 minutes through star loose-forward Paul Sculthorpe crashing over. Sean Long misses his kick again, his third miss of the football match. Six minutes later Kumul captain Adrian Lam converted a drop goal to edge Wigan even closer to the win. It was sealed with a doubt when Andrew Farrell kicked a penalty five minutes from time. The crowd went wild and the party started as Wigan Warriors ended a four year drought in their club trophy cabinet to take home the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Challenge Cup trophy. Their last final was in 1998, losing to Sheffield Eagles coached by their current assistant manager and England U21 coach John Kear (also former England World Cup coach). To cap it all off for Wigan, their star fullback who only just recovered from an infected foot, Kris Radlinksi won the Lance Todd Trophy man of the match.
Wigan shock Saints to win Challenge Cup
- by Richard Joyce
- April 28 2002 12:00AM
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