The low-scoring win at St Helens on Thursday has evoked memories of another low-scoring thriller at the home of a near neighbour.

Gary Slater takes a look...

WARRINGTON’s magnificent 6-2 victory at St Helens proved there is not too much wrong at the club despite the disappointing defeat in the Challenge Cup semi-final.

The fitness levels were excellent, the powers of concentration outstanding and the team spirit was a joy to watch.

For supporters of a certain vintage it brought to mind another epic victory in a low-scoring contest – the 6-4 win against Wigan in the Central Park mud on New Year’s Day 1987.

That all-conquering Wigan side only lost two league games all season, both to Warrington.

The Wire had already won 23-12 at Wilderspool in October and so the 6-4 victory completed a rare league double over the old enemy.

Mike Cooper had an excellent game at the Totally Wicked Stadium last Thursday and it was his uncle, Paul Cullen, who scored the only try in the 6-4 victory.

Cullen, who was wearing the No3 jersey in those days, was not a prolific tryscorer but he had also scored in the 23-12 win at Wilderspool to prove that he was one of the best centres around.

The attendance at Central Park was an impressive 17,106 but many of those were heading for the exits long before the final hooter. It was Warrington’s 13th successive victory.

Martin Richards’ report in the Daily Mirror went as follows: “It was a fiercely-fought encounter which erupted in the 29th minute when a clash between the Wire skipper Les Boyd and Wigan full-back Steve Hampson sparked a full-scale brawl.

“Four minutes later, a sweeping right-wing move involving Ken Kelly and Brian Johnson saw powerful Kiwi centre Joe Ropati put Paul Cullen in under the posts for the only try of the match which Paul Bishop goaled.

“Right on half-time Boyd was penalised at a play-the-ball and David Stephenson pulled two points back for Wigan with the penalty.

“The gap narrowed to two points in the 67th minute when Shaun Edwards’ high kick bounced off full-back Johnson’s shoulder and winger Mark Forster was judged off-side.

“Joe Lydon took over the kicking and landed the penalty but Wigan’s renewed barrage was blocked by the inspired Wire defence.”

So what was true 34 years ago remains true today – defence wins matches.

Warrington team: Brian Johnson; Rick Thackray, Paul Cullen, Joe Ropati, Mark Forster; Ken Kelly, Paul Bishop; Les Boyd, Kevin Tamati, Bob Jackson, Gary Sanderson, Mark Roberts, Mike Gregory. Sub used: Tony Humphries. Sub not used: Steve Peters.

Wigan team: Steve Hampson; Dean Bell, David Stephenson, Joe Lydon, Richard Russell; Ellery Hanley, Shaun Edwards; Graeme West, Martin Dermott, Brian Case, Ian Roberts, Rob Louw, Andy Goodway. Subs: Mike Ford, John Mayo.

Referee: Robin Whitfield (Widnes).