BARLA National Cup Quarter Final Report

Wigan St Patricks 34
Leigh East 22

Relegation haunted Wigan St Patricks put their league worries behind them to set up a National Cup Semi-Final showdown at Fryston thanks to this good win over Leigh East. Two tries from hooker Gary Phillips were the highlight for the Wigan side, along with a starring leadership role from Tony Suffolk.

Leigh East started in better form and after winning a couple of penalties, they got inside the 20 metre mark and surged over at the corner through Kevin Murphy after a wide ball left. Adrian Dootson hit the posts with the conversion and Pats gave early notice of their intentions when Danny Higham returned a kick 65 metres. A couple of minutes later another Pats attack came to nothing when Dan Birkett spilled an inside pass.

Leigh East then dominated with Ryan Fieldhouse breaking through and after winning a penalty, they went close again through Gary Middlehurst. Another attack looked like producing points with Danny Kilshaw, Fieldhouse and Middlehurst all involved before an inside pass was intercepted by Pats Anthony Atherton. The amateur international raced up to the other end of the field and just held off two chasers in the 85 metre dash. Birkett converted and although Easts attacked, the closest they came to the opposite try line was when scrum-half Adam Holland was caught on the last tackle and forced to turnover.

In contrast, the Wigan side looked sharper when Atherton opened the defence for Birkett to slice through and although he was caught, the fullback was able to slip the ball out for Phillips to claim his first try. Birkett converted and was on target again after 25 minutes when Ryan Baxter and Atherton combined and Brett Whitehead got through a tackle to score. It meant that in just twelve minutes, Easts had gone from leading 4-0 to trailing 18-4.

Kilshaw tried hard to spark his attack but time and again the likes of Anthony Gallear, Kris Ratcliffe and Marlon Alker tackled back. Even Holland tried to vary play for the visitors but a chip kick was superbly fielded by Birkett.

As the half closed, East piled on the pressure with wide passes from Holland stretching the defence while Middlehurst forced a drop out with a grubber kick.

Kilshaw then placed a further grubber kick behind the line and there was all kinds of confusion as John Taylor got to the ball first. Referee Cliff Tamou went to his touch judge, seemed to award the try and then over-ruled it following further discussion, much to the frustration of the Leigh East bench and spectators.

Wigan St Pats continued their tough tackling at the start of the second half and should have scored a fourth try too when Baxter cleverly opened the defence and Birkett sped to the line only to be pulled back for a forward pass. Birkett was everywhere during this period and managed to steal the ball back in a one-on-one tackle before being involved in the build-up to a handover on Easts line.

A couple of minutes later Kilshaw was sinbinned for coming to blows with Birkett, but the fullback had the last laugh when he slotted home the penalty to increase Pats lead to sixteen points.

Without their talisman, East seemed to surge on and they were certainly helped by a thirty metre counter attack from Fieldhouse. This set the position and after winning a penalty, East claimed their second try with Taylor nipping over from dummy half following a strong drive from youngster Lyndon Robertson. Jono Smith missed the conversion and Pats defence had to be at its best a couple of minutes later as East attacked with purpose.

An excellent counter attack then won the game for Pats. Fielding a kick inside his own twenty, Eric Andrews ran strongly and linked with Liam Gannon. He shrugged off a couple of defenders and turned the ball inside for Danny Mason who drew Fieldhouse and released Higham for a thrilling score. A dust-up following the try resulted in Jono Smith being sinbinned and with Birkett off the field, Andrews assumed the kicking and made it 26-8.

East refused to give in and when Taylor and Kilshaw found a way through the defence, Middlehurst supported for Dootson to convert. Just as the comeback appeared on, a crucial mistake from Murphy handed the initiative back to the hosts and they took it with both hands. After being held short of the line for a couple of tackles, Phillips took matters into his own hands and nipped over from dummy half for Andrews to goal.

The last ten minutes saw Leigh East desperately try to claw their way back, and even though Dootson crossed at the corner from Lee Rowley’s pass and Smith squeezed in from dummy half, Andrews made sure of that a Semi-Final tie with a 35 metre penalty five minutes from the end.

Wigan St Patricks:
Dan Birkett
2  Danny Higham
3  Damon Forshaw
4  Danny Mason
5  Eric Andrews
6  Ryan Baxter
20 Anthony Atherton
8  Anthony Gallear
9  Gary Phillips
10 Kris Ratcliffe
11 Tony Suffolk
12 Brett Whitehead
13 Marlon Alker
Subs (All Used)
14 Reece Sedgwick
15 David Hales
16 Liam Gannon
18 Jon Chamberlain

Tries: Atherton (13), Phillips (20, 67) Whitehead (25), Higham (60)
Goals: Birkett 4/4, Andrews 3/3.

Leigh East:
Ryan Fieldhouse
2  Kevin Murphy
3  Carl Redford
18 Jono Smith
5  Mark Kay
21 Danny Kilshaw
7  Adam Holland
8  Steve Ormesher
9  Adrian Dootson
10 Lee Rowley
11 John Taylor
17 Johnny Walker
13 Gary Middlehurst
Subs (All Used)
12 Dave Radley
14 Steve Tooze
15 Lyndon Robertson
16 Craig Wingfield

Tries: Murphy (4), Taylor (53), Middlehurst (65), Dootson (73), Smith (80).
Goals: Dootson 1/2, Smith 0/3.

Sinbinned:

Kilshaw (47), Smith (60).

Halftime: 18-4 to Wigan St Pats.
Penalties: 11-5 to Leigh East.

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