CHAMPIONS Pendle Phoenix ended their magnificent campaign on a high as the first team to win at Wigan all season.
A 26-19 victory capped a title-winning year where the locals earned 22 wins and suffered only two losses.
Pendle scored after five minutes when the ball was moved wide to the wing and Paul McGladdery was held up just short of the line, but the forwards were there in numbers to recycle the ball, and a speedy pas from Danny Rowland found James Redford, who split the defence to score under the posts.
Shaye McCullough added the conversion to give Pendle a seven-point lead.
Wigan came straight back from the restart and a kick over the defence allowed the Wigan player to hack the ball over the line and score. The conversion was good and Pendle knew they had a game on their hands.
Both forward packs were evenly matched, but a well stolen line out ball by Carl Wiseman gave the backs clean ball, and once again Redford raced for the line but was tackled just a metre short of the line. Jonny Harper was on hand to collect the ball and drive over, with McCullough adding the extra two points.
Both sides tried to play expansive rugby, but strong tackling caused the ball to be knocked on.
Just before half-time Pendle raised the tempo, and when the ball was moved down the backline, James Redford was on hand to score in the corner and send Phoenix in at half time with a 19-7 lead.
Pendle used their bench at half-time to inject more pace, but Wigan came out the stronger, and from the kick-off they caught Pendle napping, as a missed tackle allowed the centre to score under the posts and convert the kick to reduce Pendle’s lead to 19-14.
Wigan now had their tails up, and another chip and chase resulted in them scoring in the corner to bring the score level at 19-19.
Pendle’s fitness levels were now showing, and when the pack drove Wigan back at the scrum, a quick pass allowed the backs to show their handling skills, and when the ball reached the wing, a well-timed pass back inside allowed Dave Morris to score under the posts, and McCullough converted to see Pendle run out winners 19-26.
Pendle would like to thank all their sponsors and loyal supporters who have backed the team throughout the season, without them, their sccess would not have been possible..
The squad now have a well deserved rest after their record-breaking season which saw them score 896 points and only concede 245. They look forward to playing in the RFU leagues after four promotions in five seasons.