MATCH REPORT | St Helens 22-12 Wigan Warriors

The new Super League era began with a loss for reigning champions Wigan against their rivals St Helens in a tense affair.

 

MATCH DETAILS

New signing Kevin Naiqama opened the scoring in the second minute after the Fijian used his footwork and a right-arm fend to stand up opposing centre Dan Sarginson. Mark Percival successfully added the conversion.

Jonny Lomax then extended Saints’ lead to 12-0 after rounding Tom Davies to finish off a break from Dom Peyroux.

Saints were looking reminiscent of their opening game in 2018 against Castleford during the first 20 minutes and were looking like they could break from deep in their own half at any time. A break from Regan Grace almost led to a Tommy Makinson try in the corner but he could only ground the ball on the corner flag.

The tables then turned with Wigan pressurising the Saints line. Sarginson crossed the line only for the pass from Joe Greenwood to be called forward by referee Robert Hicks.

Zeb Taia then conceded a silly penalty for holding back Tommy Leuluai as Lachlan Coote looked to break. Ben Flower crashed on to a short ball from Sam Powell to make it 12-6.

Saints were one pass from extending their lead but the ball from Coote ended up in the hands of Liam Marshall, who then went the length of the field to make the score level at half time.

After the break, slick hands from St Helens led to Grace scoring acrobatically in the corner. Percival was unable to add the extras and it stayed 16-12.

With 10 minutes to go, Saints confirmed victory after James Roby burrowed over from dummy half, celebrating signing a two year contract extension, to give Saints a 22-12 victory.

 

FOUR POINTERS

Fages repays Holbrook’s faith

Coach Justin Holbrook decided to go with Theo Fages instead of Danny Richardson. This may have been down to his defensive capabilities which he showed by keeping Joe Greenwood quiet for most of the game.

First look at the shot-clock

The Super League’s decision to introduce the shot-clock has been praised by clubs and players alike in pre-season. The rule seemed to work well with the game seeming to flow more as well as finishing before half 9.

Joe Bullock- the next Walmsley?

The likes of Chris Hill and Alex Walmsley are examples of the forward talent that lies in Super League after transitioning from the Championship. Wigan prop Joe Bullock looks to be the next player to step up and he certainly did not look out place.

St Helens once again the team to beat- even without Barba

Saints only lost four games in the regular season last year and they looked blistering in the opening twenty minutes, getting the ball wide in their own half. Despite losing Ben Barba, they still looked slick in attack and Lachlan Coote looks a shrewd replacement.

 

SCORERS

St Helens 22

Tries: Naiqama, Lomax, Grace, Roby
Goals: Percival 3
Drop Goals: n/a

Wigan Warriors 12

Tries: Flower, Marshall
Goals: Hardaker 2
Drop Goals: n/a

 

SQUADS

St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles.

Interchanges: Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Lees.

Wigan Warriors: Hardaker, Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall, Williams, Leuluai, Flower, Powell, Navarrete, Greenwood, Farrell, O’Loughlin.

Interchanges: Isa, Hamlin, Clubb, Bullock.

 

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