Wigan Warriors produced a strong display to delay their bitter rivals the chance to lift the League Leaders Shield. Here’s our verdict…
St. Helens will have to wait to be crowned the League Leaders as a Dan Sarginson double helped Wigan Warriors to a 30-10 victory at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Wigan started the stronger of the two sides and were quick to identify the flaws in the St. Helens right edge defence, a break from former Saint Joe Greenwood sent Frenchman Morgan Escare into the backfield who in turn fed Dan Sarginson for his first.
A disallowed try each later, Saints lay siege to the Wigan line enjoying three back-to-back sets, however, Wigan’s defence stood firm and launched an almighty counter attack to follow.
Greenwood once again broke his tackle and raced into the backfield to find Oliver Gildart, he turned the ball inside to Sarginson once again and the Warriors looked in control. Escare hooked both conversions wide, the scores 8-0.
John Bateman would add yet another Wigan try showing great strength but the fireworks were to follow from Tommy Makinson, on the buzzer he climbed highest to take the ball before landing, swivelling and planting the ball down for a spectacular try.
St. Helens had all the work to do in the second-half as Wigans early start settled them firmly in the ascendancy. Yet the Saints would get off to a nightmare second forty with Tom Davies scoring inside one minute.
From here it looked an awfully long way back for the Saints side although a glimmer of hope came as a stunning offload from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook saw Makinson cross for his second to make it 18-10.
However, as the game grew Saints become desperate and Wigans stood strong adding tries through a special individual effort from Gildart and finally through skipper Sean O’Loughlin.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Wigan nail the 1%
A saying as old as time, echoed by coaches fans and players across the game, run hard and tackle hard you give yourself every chance of winning.
It’s a trend Super League has come to expect with a typical Wigan team, in victory or defeat they are a real physical test, something Saints have struggled against multiple teams this season.
Tonight Wigan showed just that, blockbusting runs carving open the saints defence, matched with rugged tackling that rocked the foundations. Ultimately the saying rung true as the Warriors outgunned their rivals and grabbed their first derby win this season.
Shield remains in waiting
Whilst not earning the fairytale of winning the shield against their bitter rivals, St. Helens know their first League Leader shield in four years is just around the corner.
However, I doubt that is the biggest concern amongst the camp, with their mini-revival being halted albeit by a strong Wigan side, recapturing their form ahead of the finals will be the highest priority.
With all the speculation surrounding Ben Barba, his flame seems to be flickering off and on, the fluid attack of the Saints has rusted and their trusted defence unravelled, it could be time for Justin Holbrook to really earn his money.
After all that has been said this week, a grand final ring is all that matters it seems.
Man of the Match – Joe Greenwood (Wigan Warriors)
From hero to zero in the eyes of Saints fans and the complete opposite in the eyes of Wigan fans, the former Saint showed exactly why Wigan moved to bring him back to Super League tonight.
His strong running opened up numerous opportunities that the Warriors scored off whilst combining well in defence with Sarginson to limit the opportunities presented to Makinson.
Memories of Greenwood scoring a late winner for St. Helens may stick in the minds of Warriors fans, but performances like this will win them round sooner than later.
St. Helens 10
Tries: Makinson (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Wigan Warriors 30
Tries: Sarginson (2), Bateman, Davies, Gildart, O’Loughlin
Goals: Williams (3)
Drop Goals: n/a
St. Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Thompson, Roby, Douglas, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles
Interchanges: Wilkin, Lees, Ashworth, Douglas
Wigan Warriors: Escare, Davies, Sarginson, Isa, Gildart, Williams, Leuluai, Navarrette, Powell, Flower, Greenwood, Bateman, O’Loughlin
Interchanges: Hamlin, Partington, Sutton, Clubb
Referee: Chris Kendall