RL: WIGAN'S CHALLENGE CUP RECORD RUN COME TO AN END
LEAGUE BRITAIN NIGHTLEAD
MANCHESTER, Feb 12 AAP - The proudest record in rugby league
came crashing to a halt yesterday as Wigan lost in the Challenge
Cup for the first time in nine years.
The winner of the Cup for the last eight seasons was beaten
26-16 in a fifth round tie at Salford - a team excluded from Super
League and with a point to prove.
Former Wigan star Andy Gregory, now Salford's coach, said: "We
believe we should be in Super League and we showed our ability
And another ex-Wigan player, Steve Hampson, fired off a salvo at
the Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson.
"I've had a grudge against him since he said he didn't want me
at the club any more two and a half years ago," said Hampson, who
once played with Gregory for the Illawarra Steelers. "Now I've had
Hampson was a standout in a thoroughly deserved victory, along
with two other recruits from Wigan, Scott Naylor, who scored two
tries, and man of the match Steve Blakeley with five goals from as
"It's the proudest moment of my career," said Gregory, who, like
Hampson, played in five Wembley winning sides with Wigan.
Wigan's last Challenge Cup defeat was in the first round at
Oldham in 1987 - 43 ties ago.
One player who remembers that is current captain Shaun Edwards:
"It had to end some time," he said. "But it sill hasn't sunk in
that today is the day."
"It probably won't until the next round of the Cup comes round
and we're not in it - or when two other sides walk out at Wembley."
Wigan coach Graeme West admitted: "We weren't hungry enough and
we now have a lot of work to do before the start of Super League.
"We have got to get our act together between now and then,
because that is the sort of match we should face all the time in
The irony is that there will be four sides from outside that
much-vaunted elite competition, in the last eight of the cup.
Apart from Salford's heroes, Wakefield, Hull and the winners of
next week's Dewsbury v Hull tie will all be in the quarter-finals -
a real case of the underdogs biting back.
Wakefield Trinity, headed by chief executive Peter Tunks and
coaching supremo Mitch Brennan, reached that stage courtesy of a
40-8 win over the amateurs of West Hull in which their professional
conditioning proved decisive in the last quarter.
Phil Sigsworth's Hull kept up its impressive form since his
arrival from Ryde-Eastwood with a comprehensive 42-10 over
Keighley, with Tongan centre Tevita Vaikona grabbing two tries.
Widnes meanwhile qualified for a fifth round tie that will
decide whether it or Dewsbury make the last eight when it beat
Super League Workington Town 17-10 in their delayed fourth round
Former Manly star John Devereux scored two of the Widnes tries,
but another British-based player on his way to the Sea Eagles has
been left with a quandary.
Former All Black Craig Innes starred for Leeds in their 30-10
win at Warrington and must now decide whether to stick around for
the rest of their Cup run or to head off for the North Shore.
"Life is not easy for me at the moment," he said.
Defeat by Leeds meant the end of a brief honeymoon for the new
Warrington partnership of Alex Murphy and John Dorahy.
"A couple of their tries should have been disallowed, but that's
football," said Dorahy. "The bottom line was that they wanted it
more than us."
St Helens trailed early at Rochdale Hornets, but soon assumed
control to win 58-20 with wingers Anthony Sullivan and Danny Arnold
each claiming a hattrick.
And Brian Smith's Bradford Bulls were too big and strong for
Leih to hold, eventually running out 44-12 winners.
In the other delayed fourth round tie, Steve Simms' Halifax beat
Whitehaven 18-6, with former South Queensland Crusher St John Ellis
getting one of their tries.
They now meet Sheffield Eagles in the fifth round.
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