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Wigan Trounce Bulls
Wigan Warriors moved back into third place in the Tetley's Rugby Super League table with a 35-22 win at Bradford Bulls in an exciting clash at Odsal on Saturday night. The Warriors continued their winning run and inflicted a second successive home defeat on Bradford for the first time since 1997.
Wigan, who had lost their last seven meetings with the Bulls, were led superby by captain Andy Farrell, who grabbed 20 points from a try and eight goals, and scrum half Adrian Lam, who orchestrated much of their attack and also kicked three drop goals.
Shontayne Hape allowed Farrell's kick to bounce into touch, and the Wigan captain posted the opening points of the game with a penalty in the third minute to open the scoring.
They scored the first try four minutes later, when Adrian Lam chipped over, Shaun Briscoe collected and kicked on before Nick Graham took advantage of Lesley Vainikolo's miss to touch down for his first try since a move from Cronulla.
A Lam 40-20 five minutes later created the position for Terry Newton to send Farrell through a gap for his 100th try in Wigan colours, and a second easy goal left them 14-0 up.
Lam kicked a drop goal on the quarter mark, but the sin-binning of Danny Sculthorpe for interference on 26 minutes gave the Bulls the chance to hit back.
And they did just that, with James Lowes going close from the penalty before Paul Deacon made a half-break and saw his pass deflect off Lam and into the arms of Robbie Paul, who touched down.
Deacon goaled, but Wigan restored their advantage on 32 minutes when Farrell grubbered through and the ball bounced up off a Bulls defender for Danny Tickle to dive, collect and touch down in one movement.
Farrell added the conversion and, although he missed with a penalty attempt after the restart failed to go the required ten metres, he did add another two points for ball stealing before Lam's second drop goal opened up a 24-6 interval lead.
Bradford roared out of the blocks at the start of the second period, and pulled back six points within three minutes, Mike Forshaw's offload freeing James Lowes, who sent Deacon over, the scrum half converting his own try.
Farrell added another penalty after Lowes caught Lam high, but the Bulls added another score, when Joe Vagana crashed over from close range on 51 minutes, to cut the gap to 26-16.
Wigan had a lucky escape when Paul was tackled just short, while Vagana produced a huge hit on Terry O'Connor at the other end as the veteran prop looked to charge over.
Farrell kicked a fourth penalty after dissent from Lowes, but the Bulls created a tense final ten minutes when Danny Gartner crossed after Briscoe's slip when Lowes kicked on a Tevita Vaikona grubber.
Deacon's goal left the gap at 28-22, but a third Lam drop goal created a seven-point buffer and enough breathing space for the Warriors to hang on before Graham's second secured the win in the final minute.
"It was a very impressive performance," said Warriors coach Stuart Raper. "It was a very workmanlike display and I've got to give big raps to all the forwards.
"It is an satisfying win. To beat Bradford after seven games is good, and part of our building process in the last two months."
Bulls coach Brian Noble said: "We didn't handle the first half very well and in some respects gave ourselves too much of a hill to climb.
"I'm not going to fault the effort but it wasn't to be. Early in the game we couldn't find the last play for ourselves and it was the lesson we deserved."