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Play Off Match Preview: St Helens (H) - 18th September 2011 at DW Stadium
Posted by Bilko on September 16 2011 - 13:04

Wigan (2nd) v St Helens (3rd) - Engage Super League XVI Play Off Qualifier.
Sunday 18th September 2011. Kick Off 2:45pm at DW Stadium.

Match Preview

Well I must admit, I've not exactly gripped with fever ahead of this derby. It just seems a bit of a flawed play off system to me when, assuming we win, we are likely to meet Saints again here in two weeks time. Even if we lose the likely hood is we'll end up playing them away from home.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it'll be a great game on Sunday - I mean last years qualifier against Leeds was a classic - but the fact it is a qualifier, and the loser gets a second chance, takes a lot of the gloss off for me.

It'll be interesting to see if this match follows the pattern of the four previous derbies played this season. In all four games Wigan have dominated pretty much up to the hour mark with Saints finishing strongly every time.

If you take the combined score for the first hour (ish) in the four matches its Wigan 82 St Helens 12 (ten of those twelve Saints points came solely in the Good Friday game), but in the last quarter the combined score is Wigan 12 St Helens 50! It's a startling contrast but I'll remain confident that if Wigan dominate for 60 minutes on Sunday, they'll win.

I think the reason for that contrast is that in most of the games, certainly the last two contests, it's taken Saints an hour to finally open up and go wide. Before then they've reverted to boring type of just punching it up the middle with James Roby and James Graham. When Brian Noble was here Wigan would have rolled over and died in the forwards but it doesn't happen under Michael Maguire. Our pack holds its own now and for that reason, I think Saints will change their tactics and chance their arm more this time.

Granted they dominated the opening half an hour of the Semi Final last month but in all that domination they never opened us up once. They did plenty of battering ram charges on the line but I struggle to remember any breaks? Whereas Wigan, the first time really they got a chance Baby Josh was away and we got the games opening try. That's the difference for me between Wigan and Saints at the moment.

Another difference is mental strength. Whilst Saints deserve massive credit for the amount of youngsters they've brought through in the last couple of seasons, they really have struggled in derbies against Wigan. Even going back to the academy level.

If you compare this current crop of Saints youngsters to ours, we hold the edge massively. Using 2008 as a benchmark for the academy level, Wigan have won 11 of the last 13 Under 20s level derbies - which includes five Wigan play off wins, three of those being Grand Final victories. Then going back to 2010, when most of the crop came through to their first team, Saints have won just 1 of 7 first team derbies against us, including losing another Grand Final.

So they clearly have issues when it comes to facing Wigan and I believe it is in the head. Shaun Wane, first in the academy in 2008 and 2009 and then onto our first team since 2010, has got our lads so fired up mentally that they hold no fear when playing St Helens anymore. Let's hope that carries forward again this week!

Amazingly this Sunday will be the first time St Helens have faced an away play off game in 7 seasons. They haven't played away in the post season since playing here at Wigan in 2004 when tries from Luke Robinson, Kevin Brown and Andy Farrell condemned them to an 18-12 defeat.

I'm not sure how big a factor home advantage will be but Wigan finished the season with the league's best home record, despite losing two of our first three home matches. We haven't lost at home since that awful night in April when Catalan spanked us 47-28. That equates to a 11 match home winning streak - a stark contrast to the form before that run when Wigan had lost 8 of 12 at home.

For Wigan, it'll be interesting to see how the look fitness wise. It's been worrying for me in the last two weeks to see them so flat after Wembley. But on reflection, I suppose the Crusaders game was always going to be a tough one last week. They knew the leaders shield destiny was out of their hands and they just did what they had to do.

They'll certainly need to improve this week. We can't afford to give Saints easy territory with sloppy handling errors because, as I've eluded to before, they are miserly in conceding penalties to help us. Whilst the semi final saw a penalty count of 10-10, in the three Super League derbies to date, Saints had won the penalty count by a combined 21-6. Just 6 Wigan penalties in three games! You normally average around 7 penalties per match so to get just six in three games shows how disciplined Saints can be. However, the fact they've been so disciplined and still not won games is fair credit to Wigan!

If Wigan turn up at full pelt in the pack, I am confident we will win. Our pace in the back five is always a massive edge, compared to Saints, and I would expect it to be so again. If we are a bit flat though and come out knocking on badly and conceding penalties then I fully expect Saints to win sadly. They'll be right up for this one and in truth whilst I know both sides will get a second chance with defeat, I think if either have aspirations to win at Old Trafford, they need to win this one. So whilst the excitement isn't gripping me, the importance certainly is. Bring it on!

19 Man Squads

Wigan
IN:l Lee Mossop, Ben Cross
OUT:l Eamon O'Carroll, Chris Tuson
Full 19: Sam Tomkins, Darrell Goulding, George Carmont, Pat Richards, Paul Deacon, Thomas Leuluai, Michael McIlorum, Andy Coley, Harrison Hansen, Joel Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin, Paul Prescott, Jeff Lima, Ryan Hoffman, Brett Finch, Lee Mossop, Liam Farrell, Josh Charnley, Ben Cross.

St Helens
IN:l Sia Soliola, James Roby, Tony Puletua, Jamie Foster
OUT:l Gary Wheeler, Carl Forster, Nathan Ashe, Joe Greenwood
Full 19: Paul Wellens, Michael Shenton, Sia Soliola, Francis Meli, James Roby, James Graham, Tony Puletua, Jon Wilkin, Scott Moore, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paul Clough, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Jonny Lomax, Jamie Foster, Tom Armstrong, Lee Gaskell, Tom Makinson, Scott Hale.

Match Referee

Phil Bentham (Warrington) - Age 40
First Pro Game: Sheffield 34 London Skolars 6 - 22nd February 2004
First Super League Game: Wakefield 30 Hull 32 - 11th September 2005
First Wigan Game: Wigan 36 Huddersfield 20 - 24th February 2006
Finals Officiated: 2011 Challenge Cup Final - Wigan 28 Leeds 24

Wigan's Record when this referee is appointed

Wigan have Won 11, Drawn 1 and Lost 15 from 27 appointments.
This Season: Won 4, Drawn 1 and Lost 0 from 5 appointments.

Video Referee

(TBC)

Final Super League XVI League Positions

  Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
2nd Wigan Warriors 27 20 3 4 852 432 +420 43
3rd St Helens 27 17 3 7 782 515 +267 37

Super League Era Head to Head Record including Play Offs

Overall Played 55 Wigan 27 Wins St Helens 24 Wins 4 Draws
At Wigan Played 26 Wigan 15 Wins St Helens 10 Wins 1 Draw
SL Play Offs Played 8 Wigan 4 Wins St Helens 4 Wins 0 Draws
SL PO at Wigan Played 4 Wigan 3 Wins St Helens 1 Wins 0 Draws

Wigan Form Guide - Last Six Matches - Won 5 Lost 1

Date Opposition Competition Result Score
9th September Crusaders (H) SL 16 Round 27 Won 42-10
4th September Warrington (A) SL 16 Round 26 Lost 12-39
27th August Leeds (N) Challenge Cup Final Won 28-18
19th August Bradford (H) SL 16 Round 25 Won 60-12
14th August Salford (H) SL16 Round 24 Won 52-18
6th August St Helens (N) Challenge Cup SF Won 18-12
29th July Hull FC (A) SL 16 Round 23 Won 30-16

Wigan 2011 League Home Record
Played 13: Won 11 and Lost 2 (Ranked: Best in League) - 84.6% Win Rate.

St Helens Form Guide - Last Six Matches - Won 4 Lost 2

Date Opposition Competition Result Score
10th September Harlequins (A) SL 16 Round 27 Won 34-16
2nd September Salford (H) SL 16 Round 26 Won 31-06
21st August Hull KR (A) SL 16 Round 25 Lost 22-24
12th August Huddersfield (H) SL 16 Round 24 Won 19-06
6th August Wigan (N) Challenge Cup SF Lost 12-18
31st July Castleford (A) SL 16 Round 23 Won 46-26

St Helens 2011 League Away from Home Record
Played 14: Won 7 Drawn 3 Lost 4 (Ranked: 3rd Best in League) - 60.7% Win Rate.

Previous Super League Play Off Meetings

Date Type Opposition Report
30th Sept 2000 Qualifier Wigan 16 St Helens 57 Click Here
14th Oct 2000 Grand Final Wigan 16 St Helens 29 Click Here
6th Oct 2001 Eliminator Wigan 44 St Helens 10 Click Here
11th Oct 2002 Eliminator St Helens 24 Wigan 08 Click Here
3rd Oct 2003 Eliminator Wigan 40 St Helens 24 Click Here
25th Sept 2004 Eliminator Wigan 18 St Helens 12 Click Here
3rd Oct 2009 Semi Final St Helens 14 Wigan 10 Click Here
2nd Oct 2010 Grand Final Wigan 22 St Helens 10 Click Here

Ticket Details

Stand ConAdultsiors Concs/Juniors
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West Stand Blue £21 £15
East Stand Silver £20 £14
East Stand Red £19 £13
South Stand £18 £12
North Stand (Visitors) £18 £12

Ticket Hotline: 0871 66 33 552
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UK TV Coverage

Live Coverage Sunday 2:30pm
Highlights Replay Late Sun 2:00am
Highlights Replay Monday 9:30am

International TV Coverage

New Zealand LIVE Late Sunday 1:30am Sky Sport 3 HD
Egypt LIVE Sunday 3:30pm OSN Sports 4 -
Dubai LIVE Sunday 5:30pm OSN Sports 4 -
Australia Delay Late Monday 0:05am Channel Nine -

Radio Commentary

102.4 Wish FM - On Air from 2:30pm with full match commentary. Commentary team is Mark Wilson, Gary Connolly and Mike Bennett.

BBC Radio Manchester (95.1FM) - Will be doing commentary of Fulham v Manchester City from 3pm, however their will be online commentary.

Weather Forecast

Chance of showers. Temperatures generally a little below average, with strong winds at times.

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