Wigan Warriors 98 Crusaders 4

Wigan Warriors v North Wales Crusaders: Liam Farrell strides over for a try
Wigan Warriors v North Wales Crusaders: Liam Farrell strides over for a try
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SAM Tomkins grabbed the first double hat-trick of his career as Wigan began the defence of their Challenge Cup in emphatic fashion yesterday.

The slippery No.1 eclipsed the five tries he scored on debut four years ago, bagging a third of Wigan’s 18 touchdowns in a 98-4 thrashing of Championship One part-timers Crusaders.

Assistant coach Iestyn Harris said: “Some of the tries we scored were outstanding, and Sam Tomkins was amazing with the skill level he showed.

“Sometimes these games can be tough mentally, when you’re playing a team two divisions below you. But we were very efficient and professional.”

The Warriors ran in nine tries in each half with Josh Charnley finishing with a personal tally of 34 points from two tries and 13 goals.

But he squandered the chance to boot Wigan into three-figures, with a late conversion attempt which drifted wide.

“Josh is pretty gutted about that,” revealed Harris. “But Crusaders probably didn’t deserve that, with the way they stuck at it and dug in.”

Liam Farrell bagged a hat-trick while Ryan King (2) and Dom Crosby marked their debuts with tries.

Harris added: “They both went well. I thought Ryan’s work ethic was good, he looked sharp, and Dom made a couple of good breaks. They both looked like they deserved to be there, which was pleasing, and it’s good that we’ve got two more players pushing for places.”

Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths said: “People talk of Billy Slater - Sam Tomkins is equally as good as him. He was untouchable at times.

“We’ve been together 14 weeks, they’re one of the best teams in the world. I’ve had these boys together for three hours this week - they did that on Monday morning.”

Griffiths revealed Jono Smith suffered a suspected fractured eye socket.

The draw for the fifth round of the Cup takes place at 3pm today in Leeds.

WORLD Cup and Four Nations winner Thomas Leuluai has been left out of New Zealand’s squad for this Friday’s Anzac Test against Australia, due to the travel involved.

WIGAN’S Under-18s game at Bradford last Saturday was postponed.