Match report as Wigan Warriors lose to St Helens at the DW Stadium on Thursday night
Two tries for Saints give the visitors a 6-14 win
- Sam Tomkins with Wigan’s try
Wigan Warriors fell to a 6-14 defeat to St Helens at the DW Stadium on Thursday night.
Dominic Peyroux scored the first try of the game and that was added by Danny Richardson’s successful conversion.
Richardson added another two points to the Saints score as he converted a penalty goal mid-way through the first half.
St Helens extended their lead to 0-14 after Morgan Knowles crossed over with Richardson adding the extras.
Sam Tomkins gave hope of a late Wigan revival towards the end with his 200th career try but Saints hung on to take the derby spoils.
Ex-St Helens back-rower Joe Greenwood faced his former club for Wigan after recovering from injury, while centre Dan Sarginson also returned.
New Warriors signing Chris Hankinson was also included but injuries ruled out centre Oliver Gildart, skipper Sean O’Loughlin and half-back George Williams.
St Helens were forced into three changes, with full-back Ben Barba, centre Mark Percical and injured back-rower Zeb Taia replaced by Matty Lees, Ryan Morgan and Jack Ashworth in the 17-man squad.
The opening exchanges were exactly what fans of Wigan and St Helens would have expected from their teams in a top-of-the-table Derby clash. It was a fierce, uncompromising start, all played at a frenetic speed.
Setting the tone for the rest of the game, Warriors’ prop Tony Clubb put pressure on Saints’ young half-back Danny Richardson and forced a kick-out on the full with a minute yet to be registered on the clock. The Wigan prop’s forceful hit on the Saints man summed up the first ten minutes, as Wigan, starved of possession due to some early handling errors, defended aggressively and looked to get the faces of their opponents at every opportunity.
Despite the commitment on-show from Shaun Wane’s patched-up Warriors, Saints enjoyed far too much of the ball for Wigan to land any blows on their fierce rivals.
Saints crossed for the game’s first try and it was a soft one for the Warriors to concede. French half-back Theo Fages put a grubber kick through after a spell of concerted pressure on the Wigan line for the visitors, and centre Dan Sarginson and his wing Liam Marshall, who were both looking to field the bouncing ball, collided and Saints’ Dom Peyroux was on hand to score. Richardson converted.
Richardson added another two points with a penalty approaching the twenty-minute mark as Wigan finally began to wrestle back some of the initiative as they enjoyed more of the ball and the lion’s share of territory.
As the half wore on, Wigan were looking more and more dangerous with ball in-hand. Tommy Leuluai in particular was exerting his influence on the game and his cross-field kick nearly saw winger Tom Davies rise above his opposite number Regan Grace to score. The ball though landed in Jonny Lomax’s lap, and the dangerous Saints full-back launched a counter in tandem with his centre Tommy Makinson. Saints’ England wing-come-centre looked certain to scorch away to score, but Wigan back-rower John Bateman showed unbelievable desire and speed to haul him down in a heart-stopping footrace.
Half time: Wigan Warriors 0-8 St Helens
After the break Wigan continued with their struggle to maintain a foothold in the game. Wigan’s attack just couldn’t click into gear with the main source of encouragement for the home faithful was their side’s desperate defending on their own line.
The Warriors line would eventually break, when Saints’ continued assault on their try-line. Morgan Knowles dotted the ball down for his side’s second try of the evening after 50 minutes of play. Knowles collected another well-timed delivery from his half-back, Theo Fages, to burst through the tackle of Sam Powell to score from close-range. Richardson converted from out-wide.
Much like the story of the first half, Saints’ blistering start meant that the Warriors had to wrestle back the momentum of the game. The reintroduction of props Ben Flower and Tony Clubb plus former Saints back-rower Joe Greenwood provided Wigan with more ballast in attack, and the Warriors thought they hit-back with a try when centre Dan Sarginson powered over the Saints line. The Wigan centre’s dash for the line was thwarted but the Cherry and Whites didn’t have to wait too long to get their score.
Sam Tomkins has been a big-game player for Wigan plenty of times, and the Warriors full-back was his team’s catalyst once again. Picking up a ball against the grain of the Saints defence and with great desire and dexterity he grounded the ball for his 200th career try which he converted.
Wigan had nine minutes to rescue the match. John Bateman, who was magnificent throughout for his side, continued to plug away at the St Helens defence while Tomkins and Sam Powell looked to unlock the visitors defence but to no avail.
The Saints, who moved ten points clear of Wigan at the summit of the Betfred Super League with this win, absorbed threat of a grandstand finish to see out the game to end Wigan’s unbeaten home record this season.
Full time: Wigan Warriors 6-14 St Helens
Wigan Warriors– 6
Wigan: Tomkins, Davies, Hankinson, Sarginson, Marshall, Woods, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Isa, Bateman, Navarrette. Replacements: Tautai, Hamlin, Paisley, Greenwood.
Goals: Tomkins 1/1
St Helens– 14
St Helens: Lomax, Swift, Makinson, Morgan, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Knowles, Wilkin. Replacements: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Lees, Ashworth.
Tries: Peyroux, Knowles
Goals: Richardson 3/3