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Saturday, October 24, 1998 Published at 20:19 GMT 21:19 UK


Sport: Rugby League

Robinson's run helps Wigan to glory

Andy Farrell is held up by Leeds' Adrian Morley

Wigan Warriors 10 Leeds Rhinos 4

Wigan came from 4-0 down to win a tight Grand Final at Old Trafford against Leeds, with the Man of the Match a former ball boy at Headingley.


Jason Robinson: "It's a great time to score a try for myself"
Jason Robinson came back to haunt his former idols in a pulsating game, scoring his side's only try with superb pace as he cut in from the right.

Andy Farrell kicked the other six points in a tight encounter which saw Leeds take a 4-0 lead and dominate the first half of a battle in the pouring rain.

But despite his feat in scoring in every Wigan match this season, Farrell was overshadowed by winger Robinson, the man they call Billy Whizz.


Andy Farrell lifts the trophy at Old Trafford
He flew in like an Olympic sprinter three minutes from half time to destroy a fine start to the match from Leeds and lay the foundation for the Warriors victory.

The score was Robinson's 17th try of the season and helped Wigan to their first championship since the advent of summer rugby.


Henry Paul after a last triumphant Wigan appearance
Captain Farrell's contribution was essential as he converted Robinson's try and kicked two crucial second-half penalties.

But it was Robinson who stole the show, clearing his lines with typical scampering runs, relieving pressure and then setting up Wigan for their most dangerous attacks.

Leeds dominant in first half

Leeds faded towards the end but that was perhaps because they came out so strongly at the start.

Their intentions were clear - squeeze Wigan into playing in their own half with a display of ferocious tackling.

The tactic worked perfectly for 37 minutes as Leeds swept forward inexorably.

Their huge pack worked tirelessly in the middle of the pitch, with full-back Iestyn Harris providing the magic outside.

It was from a Harris burst that the game's first try came in the 21st minute.

He found a hole to dart through and when he was finally halted by the third attempted tackle, the Wigan defence was in disarray.

Ryan Sheridan took on the ball from the play-the-ball and fed big Richie Blackmore who powered over.

But Harris missed the conversion from out wide - a mistake that cost his side dear as Robinson weaved his magic on 37 minutes.

Nothing seemed on far out on the right when he suddenly sprinted inside and changed direction, darting between Darren Fleary and Jamie Mathiou to race under the posts for a quite magnificent touchdown.

Farrell added the easy conversion and Wigan went in at the interval with a 6-4 lead.

Second half setback overcome

A Farrell penalty when Marc Glanville fouled Tony Smith edged the Warriors further ahead five minutes into the second half.

Wigan did not let a disallowed 49th minute try affect them, and as the game wore on, their superior fitness - and the tiredness of a Leeds side who have played two consecutive semi-final play-offs - began to tell.

They sealed the win with a Farrell penalty seconds before the hooter.


Wigan coach John Monie after the final whistle
Afterwards the Old Trafford tannoy belted out the inevitable `We are the Champions', and Wigan coach John Monie's face was covered in smiles.

He has returned Wigan to the top of the heap in his first year back in charge and banished the memories of a dreadful Challenge Cup defeat against Sheffield.

The game's authorities will also see the evening as a victory as 43,533 turned up at Old Trafford despite the contraversial decision to decide the championship in a series of one-off games.

Wigan would have taken the title anyway under the old format after finishing top of the Super League, but not as dramatically as this Grand Final win.

Wigan

Radlinski, Robinson, Moore, Connolly, Bell, Paul, Smith, O'Connor, McCormack, Mestrov, Holgate, Gilmour, Farrell. Substitutes: Cowie, P Johnson, Haughton, Cassidy.

Leeds

Harris, Rivett, Blackmore, Godden, Cummins, Powell, Sheridan, Masella, Newton, Fleary, Morely, Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes: St Hilaire, Mathiou, Hay, Holroyd.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford)



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