Four Pointers: Wigan Warriors 25-0 St Helens

WIGAN END SAINTS’ RUN IN STYLE

Wigan ended Saints’ 7 game unbeaten run in style, as they whitewashed their rivals 25-0 at the DW Stadium on Friday night. It was a brilliant, morale boosting result for the Warriors, who have been in real poor form going into this crucial derby game. Saints came into this game winning their previous 7 Super League games, and in brilliant form. However, their talisman, Luke Walsh was definately missed on a night that saw the Saints look lost for ideas in attack.

It was a brilliant start to the game for Wigan. After a superb opening set, they forced an error from Adam Swift, and capitalised on it straight away. It was on the last when Gelling shown the Saints defence the dummy and forced his way over in the corner, showing great skill and determination to open the scoring after just 2 minutes. The game seemed to settle as Saints got into the game and started to play some rugby. However, the Wigan defence was stubborn all night, and try as they might, there seemed no way past for the Saints. Saints forced 3 goal-line dropouts, and continued to pile the pressure on. However, they just seemed lost in their attack, without any clear idea of what they wanted to do.

Both sides defended really well in the first half, Wigan just about won the battle down the middle, which went a long way in winning the game. After consuming all the pressure that Saints gave them, Wigan doubled their lead when Gelling went over for his second try of the game. It came after an outstanding short ball inside from Bateman, as he sent Gelling under the posts. Then came Saints’ best chance to get over right before halftime, when in a crazy 2 minute period, Wigan knocked on twice on their own line, only for Saints to repay the favour and end the half with Wigan leading 12-0.

SUPERB DEFENSIVE EFFORT

It was a good start to the second half from Saints. They had chances early on, the best of them coming from Roby who looked to be over, until Frank-Paul Nu’uausala was on hand to keep him out. Saints had a couple of clean breaks as the game seemed to spark into life. However, on the hour mark, Matty Smith eased the pressure when he slotted over a drop-goal to put Wigan 13-0 ahead. One of the biggest dissapoitnremnts from both sides would’ve bee their handling during this game. It wasn’t the prettiest of games to watch, and there seemed to be a knock-on every other set.

Saints continued to press and desperately looked to get on the board, and back in this game. However, it was the same story of the first half, in that they just didn’t seem to have any idea of what to do when near the Wigan line. It wasn’t that they didn’t have any chances, they forced 4 goal-line drop-outs in the game, and had multiple sets on the Wigan line, but just couldn’t get over. Then, with Saints pushing so hard to get over, they were trying everything, and a looping pass out wide was intercepted by Gelling, and the Wigan centre went 90 metres up-field to score his hat-trick try in brilliant fashion.

The game seemed dead a buried at this point, even with 15 minutes to go. Wigan led 17-0 and looked in full control, the latest try just took the wind out of Saints and killed the game off. Matty Smith confirmed the victory as he kicked a penalty over in-front of the sticks to extend his sides lead to 19-0 with just 8 minutes to go. Wigan finished the game well and managed to get over yet again after some brilliant play from Tautai as the forward stepped inside and flicked a pass inside to Williams who went under the posts to wrap up a superb 25-0 whitewash over their fierce rivals, St Helens.

JUST WHAT WIGAN NEEDED

The last time St Helens were nilled in a league derby was 27th December 1955, the only other time coming in the Challenge Cup Final in 1989. Tonight result, will not only stay in the history books for a long time, but also gives the Wigan fans a much needed boost following recent weeks. Before the game at the DW tonight, there was a sense of nervousness and anxiety as Wigan fans didn’t know what to expect following their sides recent form. While on the other side, Saints fans seemed upbeat and confident of another win.

Wigan fans have been rather upset all season really. There side haven’t had many full 80 minute performances to shout about, and their fans have become tired of it. While they have somehow found a way to win games late on a lot this season, and also still find themselves in the top 4, currently 2nd in the league. It still hasn’t been a great season for the Warriors. Now I don’t know if that shows the lack of quality in the Super League this season, or just that Wigan are good at winning when under the hammer.

What is clear to see is that tonight’s result against St Helens came at a perfect time in their season, a time in which they now have a week off until their next game. Wigan have four game remaining now, Widnes (H), Hull FC (A), Warrington (A) and finish off the Super 8s with Catalans (H). Wigan will fancy their chances to really push on for a top two finish, and guarantee a home game in the play-offs. It’s not crucial to play at home in these games, but it’ll be a positive end to the season, that’ll give them more confidence going into the all important play-off game.

As for St Helens, while this result obviously will hurt and damped their spirits, it isn’t the end of their season at all. They are still 4th in the league, 4 points clear of Catalans in 5th, and you have to fancy their chances of staying in the top 4 and getting into eh play-offs come the end of the Super 8s. Their recent run of wins has been fantastic, and shown everyone what the real Saints can do when they perform to their potential. No side would like to play them in the play-offs, I can guarantee that.

POST-GAME MEDIA

Wigan Warriors assistant coach John Winder:

“It was a tough game but I thought the way we defended our own try line ultimately got us the result.

“We made plenty of errors but our mindset when we defended was top class. We leaked a few points at Castleford last week and we talked about getting back to how we defended at the start of the year and I thought we were outstanding in that area.

“We knew it was a big challenge and I thought we rose to it.”

Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37110167

St Helens head coach Keiron Cunningham:

“If you want to teach a kid how not to win, that was probably the best way to do it.

“We turned over 50% of the ball and you just can’t get a foothold in the game doing that. Every time we did, we looked a little bit threatening.

“It’s hard to be critical because they’ve been fantastic, but it’s hard to stay on the crest of a wave for a long, long period and tonight we were probably a bit guilty of that.”

Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37110167

IN THE SHEDS

There were no immediate injuries to report from the game.

While it was a rough and tough game, which is typical for a Wigan/Saints derby. There were no real incidents that would force the RFL to take action against any player/team.

FINAL SCORE

Wigan Warriors: (12) 25

Tries: Gelling 3, Williams

Goals: Smith 4/5

Dropgoal: 1/1

St Helens: (0) 0

MATCH DETAILS

Wigan Warriors: S Tomkins; Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Gildart; Williams, Smith; Crosby, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Farrell, Isa.

Replacements: Tautai, Sutton, Nuuausala, Shorrocks.

St Helens: Lomax; Owens, Fleming, Peyroux, Swift; Turner, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, Richards, Greenwood, Knowles, Wilkin.

Replacements: Amor, Vea, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Tasi.

Attendance: 15,265

Referee: Ben Thaler

Venue: DW Stadium

Date/Time: Friday 19th August 2016 – 20:00pm GMT

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