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Tommy The C5t

Rugby League, The Greatest Games, Part Two

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The second game from my look back at the greatest games series takes us back to the year 2000, and our first ever visit to the new home of the Wigan Warriors, in the rearranged Wednesday evening round seven clash, which still is regarded by those in attendance as the best in the history of Super League.

It would be a game played out before a then record JJB stadium crowd as Bradford who stood at the Super League summit would play the team occupying second spot in the table Wigan and oh boy this game didn't disappoint.

Wednesday 7th June 2000

Wigan Warriors 12-12 Bradford Bulls

Wigan Warriors

Tries: Newton (6), Connolly (49)

Goals: Farrell 1/2

Drop Goals: Peters 1/1, Farrell 1/2

Sin Bin: Farrell (26) - Head-butting

Bradford Bulls

Tries: Deacon (37)

Goals: H Paul 4/4

Sin Bin: Fielden (26) - Late tackle on Farrell that sparked the brawl

Half-time: 4-10

Penalty Count: Wigan 7-7 Bradford

Referee: Russell Smith (Castleford)

Attendance: 17,365

This match came just four days after the 17-16 victory over St Helens at Odsal, a game that was played in atrocious rain-sodden monsoon like weather (which still didn't deter over 13,000 brave souls to stand on the open terraces expossed to the elements).

So the big question as we all lined up at Odsal waiting to board one of the nine supporters coaches was "To follow up the bruising and morale-shattering defeat at Warrington with a one-point battling win over St Helens five days latter, could we now double up on the St Helens game with a rare victory away at Wigan?"

As the supporters coaches arrived at the new ground,with the JJB rotating sign giving us cause for distraction, you could feel a very special feeling in the air, a feeling amongst the supporters that the team spirit within in the side was there glowing relentlessy for all to see, with the players from Henry Paul to James Lowes, from Brad Mackay to Paul Anderson, from Leon Pryce to Mike Forshaw covering each other's backs with a display of defensive commitment when they should very much be out on their feet.

As we took our seats in the North stand it was pretty much evident that over 4,000 Bradford fans had made the journey over from West Yorkshire and as the pre-match fanfare started you just knew something special was about to unfold before our very eyes.

From the first blast of Russell Smith's whistle we knew we were up against some truly great world class players in Jason Robinson, Steve Renouf, Andy Farrell and Gary Connolly.

But we were to get the scoreboard ticking first as Wigan were pulled for laying on in the tackle and Henry Paul gracefully slotted over the 35m penalty goal giving us a 2-0 lead after four minutes.

From the restart Wigan looked determined to impress the stadium record attendance and they duly recovered to edge ahead through Terry Newton from a quick play the ball as he took the covering Mike Forshaw over the line with him to get Wigan up and running.

Andy Farrell was wide with the conversion and the game bearly six minutes old had seen some great skill already.

The next ten minutes didn't see any points but both sides were giving their all to break some swarming defending as the backs were struggling to find a way through.

Denis Betts was penalised for holding down on 19 minutes and as the Bulls players looked up to Matthew Elliots lofty perch in the West stand for guidance he put up the two fingers and Henry Paul locked the scores up at 4-4.

On 26 minutes this tense, gripping game of Super League boiled over as Farrell and Fielden were sent to the sin bin for thier part in an almighty 26 man brawl that took the officials some three minutes to calm down.

Farrell was very lucky to only see yellow as the replays on the big screen to our left showed him head butting James Lowes in the brawl.

From the penalty Jamie Peacock failed to use the overlap out wide by instead going on his own to the line which saw him being held inches short.

This error was soon a distant memory as Paul Deacon scored a wonderful opportunist try just seconds before the break,as the heavy pressure from the Bradford front row forced the Wigan defence to crack and Deacon who used a beautifully executed side step was away under the posts from 50m out.

Russell Smith didn't see the grounding so it was referred to the video referee who took little time in awarding the sensational score.

Henry Paul went out to 3/3 and the Bradford Bulls had a shock 10-4 half-time lead.

As the second half started we all knew that the key to winning this game would be "fatigue" as Wigan really upped the tempo in the early minutes of the second forty.

This very nearly resulted in a equalising Wigan try to Jason Robinson after only 90 seconds from the restart after a great break by Farrell who found the Wigan winger supporting him.

But as the video referee was asked to look at the try, the travelling Bulls supporters started to cheer as the replay showed that Leon Pryce had somehow managed to force Robinson to spill the ball over the line and a 20m restart flashed up on the big screen.

It really was wave after wave of attacks on the Bradford line by the Wigan forwards and after being repelled for so long, it was only a matter of time before the scores were level again at 10-10 all.

This happend in the 49th minute as Peters ran around the Bulls defence before sending a sublime bullet pass to Connolly who crashed over in front of the travelling Bulls army.

Farrell added the simple conversion and with just over 30:00 minutes to go the scores were locked up again.

The drama unfolding before us was nothing that we had seen before as the Bradford fatigue had really set in now and we were out there on a limb and a prayer.

Farrell again made a break and with everyone expecting the testing bomb, Peters nudged Wigan in front for the first time since the sixth minute with a well taken 25m drop goal.

But with just ten minutes left as the game reached a frantic finish, Russell Smith gave Bradford a penalty 40m out for a ball steal, Henry Paul had the chance to put Bradford in front which he did as he sweetly struck the ball between the posts.

With the score Wigan 11-12 Bradford and the minutes counting down, Wigan needed to act fast and they once again locked the scores up as Farrell recovered a dropped Bradford ball and slot the drop goal over under heavy pressure from the charging Bradford defence.

As the the clock ticked down to full time, both sides had chances to win this EPIC game with Henry Paul wasting a chance to put the drop goal over with just seconds left as the Bradford forwards had got us into a match winning position.

But it wasn't to be as neither side could overcome the opposition's eager swarming defence.

The hooter had sounded and the record JJB stadium crowd stood on their feet to applaud the heroic gladiators from both sides who had just given us a Super League classic.

This game was simply too good to have a winner and as we left the ground, heading towards the supporters coaches to take us home, we knew that he had been so close to a famous victory.

But knew that we could heart from the fact that after a performance of that magnitude, we knew that we had no-one to fear as the run in to the plat-offs started.

This really was a tremendous game of Rugby League as in my eyes it's the best game from the whole of the 2000 Super League season.


Edited by Tommy The C5t

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fantastic game,

Fielden's reaction when Smith sends him off for ten minutes is quality. :D

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How old are you Mick?

Is this some sort of school project that you are publishing online for feedback before you submit it to your teacher?

I'm 24 but have been a fan of the game ever since my dad started taking me to Odsal in the late 80's/early 90's and no this isn't a school project (my spelling isn't that bad is it?)

Edited by Tommy The C5t

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I remember that game well. I watched it in my local with a few mates, it was totally absorbing. Unfortunately, there were a few older locals who wanted another channel on (they were soccer fans) - they just couldn't and didn't appreciate what was a truly great sporting spectacle. Needless to say, the tv stayed tuned to the rugby and I somehow managed to refrain from giving the moaning kn*****ds an in depth sermon on the difference in attitude between League players and their soccer cousins etc.

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