For me this was our worst performance of the season by some
distance in attack but yet we still won this up tie at a canter. We
were way off our best but yet I think we had Saints in our pocket
I like to have a bit of a joke on twitter by using
the hashtag #bargeoversaints to highlight how much they lack pace
and seem to score most of their tries with flop overs from inside
ten metres and this match highlighted that totally. One or two good
clean breaks aside, you never feared they had any damage to inflict
on us from deep and that is the reality for St Helens fans at the
I mean let's make no bones about it, I think we were their for
the taking in this game. Our ball retention was pretty poor and we
were lucky that Saints had zero direction and looked pretty
clueless in attack.
Yet for all our sloppy attack, we controlled the game with ease
and I never felt we were ever going to lose this game. I was very
confident going into the game and the reality backed that up.
Saints hold zero fears for us anymore. Yes, they did dominate early
on but that was off the back of 83% possession in the first ten
What you have to praise is our defence. It was a dominating pack
performance yet again and how proud it was to see our starting six
forwards all being academy products for the second time this
Like I said, Saints dominated the first ten minutes off the back
of a 7 sets out of 7 100% completion rate whilst Wigan threw an
error and a forward pass to incomplete two of their first three
sets. Shaun Wane is shown on the BBC Coverage after 10 minutes to
be going absolutely mental over a poor Mike McIlorum forward pass,
but before all that, the pressure had to tell, and it did on just 5
The bounce of the football created from Jonny Lomax's grubber
kick from 10 metres out was un-defendable really. It bounced kindly
into Micheal Shenton's hands and he did well to offload to allow
Paul Wellens to score from 0.00000000000027 metres out. Ok, might
be exaggerating a bit there but it was standard Saints try. Close
to the posts and it should of been an easy conversion for Lomax but
he hit an absolute sitter wide.
The reality was Saints needed far more than just 4-0 from that
opening ten minutes. If they'd have claimed a second then this game
could have been very interesting indeed. But once Wigan got
possession, we took control of the contest pretty quickly.
Our first score came from our first meaningful attack in the
13th minute. Penalty got us up field and it was just sheer speed
from the ruck that helped Sam Tomkins get over from Brett Finch's
pass towards the left corner. Lomax had shot the bolt too early in
defence and Sam went through that gap. Big boost of confidence as
well to see Josh Charnley convert a difficult kick.
Then on 21 minutes we increased the 6-4 lead with a second try,
again attacking the left hand side. Mike McIlorum takes the play
the ball under the sticks before finding Finch who shows his true
class again with a cut out pass that finds Carmont and takes out
two defenders. Still work to do here because George had the winger
wrapping him up but he too showed his class by offloading superbly
out the back door to send captain Sean O'Loughlin in the corner.
Charnley again converted off the touchline to make it 12-4.
After that, got to be honest the result never looked in doubt.
Wigan made hard work of wrapping the contest up but we always
looked to have that little bit more in the bank compared to Saints
and that was because of the experience in the halves from Finch and
Tommy Leuluai. We had the edge in the pack battle I thought but the
defensive battle was very even indeed but our two halves knew
exactly what they were doing whilst Saints pair of Lomax and Hohaia
began to look more and more clueless as the game wore on. James
Roby is all class for sure but the big teams can control his
predictability, and the reliance that the team mates put on his
shoulders, and we did that as this game wore on as well.
It was the 50th Minute that Wigan score again and it was all
class again from that man Finch. From fourty out he broke clear off
a Leuluai pass before sidestepping Slug Wellens at full back to go
over close to the posts. A conversion here dusted the game off for
me but Charnley ended up missing a sitter as bad as Lomax's early
in the game. Shaun Wane was so relaxed about the conversion he was
seen on tv saying, "He's missed it????" about 5 seconds after he
had done so. I've never seen a kicker like Josh. He'll kick
for fun off the touchline but seems to struggle with the sitters.
We need him to do better, because it could become vital later on
because I question whether or not we will see Pat Richards back
later this year. Knee injuries can be funny.
Anyway, 16-4 with 30 minutes to go and again very little in the
way of a rally came from St Helens. I wonder if they ever had the
belief that they could score twice and back Lomax to convert both
Saints did have one opportunity to launch a comeback on the hour
mark but Gary Wheeler couldn't ground the ball whilst trying to
score from 0.000000000054 metres out. Saints ended up with a drop
out from the video ref decision but soon wasted it.
Wigan wrapped up the win with a penalty goal from Charnley from
40 metres out. Similar position to his late effort at Widnes that
would of won us the match but he missed. Be honest, you didn't back
him to kick it did ya? But he did just that to make it 18-4 with 18
minutes to go. Sean O'Loughlin attempted a late drop goal as well
but that went wide.
Wigan fans were left with plenty of time to taunt the Saints
fans at the North end of the East Stand but the final hooter went.
It was a cracking atmosphere today. We've waited too long for a big
cup tie like this.
The other things to note from this game was an injury to Eric
Lauaki on 33 minutes that saw him leave the field and not return.
He was out cold for a few seconds after taking a bang to the mouth
which left him bleeding. He wasn't missed - and I don't say that as
a slur on him, because I actually he's getting some unwarranted
stick for his discipline, but I mean it in the sense that our pack
was so dominating even in his absence.
Also their was a semi scuffle between Sia Soliolia and Gareth
Hock on 61 minutes but sadly no fists went flying. I would have
liked to have seen that not just because I think it'd be a great
fight but also I wanted some biff so my mate Barry Chuckle, the
legendary flag waver, could have come on the pitch and got
involved. He loves a scrap! Look back at the video of that famous
2004 Good Friday brawl - there's "Barry" (his real name is Tony
Martin) with his flag trying to split up Andy Farrell and Paul
Final footnote is that Paul Prescott picked up a knee injury
that leaves him doubtful for Friday's top of the table clash at
Huddersfield. The injury will be assessed on Monday.
Ps....Whilst I think on, I think a little bit of praise is due
to Anthony Gelling today. He was all over Shenton and Meli out
there on the left wing in attacking high bombs and was unlucky to
have pinged for forward passes on last tackles two or three times.
He's been a bugs dick away from being top draw in many aspects
during the last three weeks but he just needs to keep plugging away
and it will come off for him out there I'm sure. I think that sums
up this game overall. If we'd have hit top form this could have
been a 40-4 type of hammering by Wigan. So to win without
scratching around for luck and perfection has to be very pleasing
indeed. Top of the league and a cup semi final. Maybe the Shaun
Wane doubters will start shutting up now eh?