WIGAN'S semi-final showdown with arch-rivals St Helens lived up to its intense derby billing but the confrontations at the turnstiles were twice as fierce.

Simply farcical organisation and stewarding caused chaos at the fringes of Knowsley Road, with thousands of furious fans forced to queue in the teeming rain for an hour leading up to the big game and many more shut out as the ground swelled to capacity.

The problem stemmed from the ludicrous decision not to make the high demand fixture an all ticket affair.

By the time the big night arrived, hardly anyone had paid in advance. Yet stadium officials amazingly decided to open up just four 'cash only' turnstiles to the massing crowds, leaving five times as many open to the tiny number of ticket holders.

After queueing for nearly an hour, the message was sent out that - suprise surprise - all the adult tickets had sold out and no more could be admitted for safety reasons. Yet there were thousands of concessions tickets unsold, meaning the ground was far from full.

Only the very real threat of a riot prompted the ground staff to finally allow fans entry by paying full price for a children's ticket but, even then, many were locked out.

Making the game all-ticket would have defused the situation entirely and hopefully the officials in charge have now learned a valuable lesson.

But from every sell-out game comes a great blagging story and this is no exception.

I know one fan who ambled up to the ground just ten minutes before kick-off to find all the turnstiles closed.

Armed by sheer determination and a cardboard box he picked up off the street, he then strode purposefully through the players' entrance giving the appearance of an important and hurried member of the groundstaff.

One quick acknowledging nod to the steward and he was being guided down the tunnel, eventually emerging on to the pitch itself, from where he climbed unnoticed into the crowd to meet his stunned friends - genius!

Congratulations to Paul Sculthorpe for deservedly becoming the first player to win back-to-back Man of Steel awards but I think defeat to Wigan last week would have cost him his crown.

I gather the votes were so evenly split between him and Warriors ace Adrian Lam that the decision could only be swayed by a Grand Final appearance.

The plaudits must be shared by both players, who have been the inspiration behind their teams' success and laid on some world class rugby league all season.