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Match Report: Wigan 28 St Helens 16
Posted by cherryandwhite on March 31 2013 - 15:19

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Wigan Warriors v St Helens - Super League 18 Round 9.
Good Friday 29th March 2013
. Kick Off 12:15pm at DW Stadium.

Match Report

After enduring four miserable Easter clashes against St Helens between 2006 and 2009, it has been nice to hit back with what now proves to be four Good Friday victories in a row.

The only thing surprising about this match was how close the final score made the game look because Wigan totally dominated St Helens in the middle of the park and on another day we could have easily have racked up 40-50 points.

It shows that we are still not quite clicking in attack with so many new faces in key positions, but the fact we are producing good results without that should be seen as a huge positive.

I tweeted during the match that I felt Wigan were not at their best and that was highlighted by the match facts. 16 Errors. Only 62% set completion. Yet we won this match at a canter. Probably highlights how poor Saints were in truth.

Saints did of course have key men like Jonny Lomax and James Roby out but you'll not convince me that Lance Hohaia would have made much of a difference yesterday.

The bottom line was that we knew in the morning when the team sheet showed a half back pairing of Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin that this game was won. That is pretty desperate stuff and it showed throughout the entire 80 minutes. Wilkin did his best but the 33 year old Wellens looked totally out of place on a field filled with youngsters.

One player who did ok for Saints was debutant Stuart Howarth, who played his academy rugby here at Wigan between 2006 and 2010. Was always a decent player here but never looked like he had the class to make it for us. Sometimes it's not about class though and you can have players who are "job men". By that I mean they just do a good job without necessarily being top quality. I think he could be that type for Saints in the short term. I wish him well, he was a good kid here.

The key stat in this match was the Clean Break that read 14-4 to Wigan, of which it was 8-1 in the first half. Wigan continually broke clear right up the gut of the St Helens defence and the first one  led to us taking the lead in the 8th Minute.

Matty Smith's beautifully timed pass to Darrell Goulding left Wilkin mugged in defence but Tom Makinson in fairness did well at full back to halt Goulding short. A quick play the ball however caught him "not square" and from the penalty, good hands saw Pat Richards score in the left corner. It always fills you with confidence on these kind of occasions when Pat then adds the extras from a touchline conversion, this one made it 6-0. Wigan could have extended their lead on 16 minutes when Ben Flower broke up the middle but unfortunately his pass went to a Saints player.

The visitors day of woe was highlighted early when Paul Wellens had passed to his twin brother, a slug in the grass, when Ade Gardner looked to have space. They did get a big chance from that Flower error when Mark Percival made a half break, but his pass to the supporting Tom Makinson went to ground.

Errors continued for Saints with both Jon Wilkin and Willie Manu knocking on and Wigan punished on 23 minutes. Matty Smith's pass got Jack Hughes away on half way and he had support of Sam Tomkins to score near the posts. Pat converted for 12-0.

That lead should have been extended on the next set. Smith broke up the gut but sadly ran away from the three man support on the right towards the left where support was lacking. Try went begging for sure!

Saints had barely attacked but managed to force two drop outs in a row around the half hour mark before Wigan showed their class by first seeing off that pressure, then converting it for a try themselves.

What a try it was as well. Last Tackle for Saints, at our end, the kick went in and landed in the hands of Charnley who produced 13 seconds of sheer joy. He picked the ball up 2 metres from the line and race diagonally from right of the posts towards the left wing. Francis Meli was the only chaser but his effort was always in vain, Josh had too much pace and he went all the way to make it 18-0 after Pat converted.

The game then seemed to be drifting towards half time but we had another big opportunity when Charnley half broke down the right and had Hughes in support for a walk in try. A poor knock on which left Saints still in the contest. They were on the ropes at 18-0 but relieved because it could, and probably should, have been 30-0.

Into the second half and Saints had a good dig early and scored after four minutes through Paul Clough. Clough's try was given by video referee Phil Bentham, despite the possibility of Farrell having his hand under the ball, thus stopping it from being grounded. Benefit of doubt to the attacker though is what should be given and the try was awarded. Easy conversion for Mark Percival made it 18-6.

In years gone by, Wigan might have flapped in this situation but it was clear as day during this match that Saints didn't have any clean breaks in them. So unless Wigan invited them towards the try line for barge over tries, they weren't going to be a consitent threat.

We had plenty in the tank up the other end also. On 55 minutes and with Wellens down hurt in back play, Blake Green sent Dom Crosby, superb on the day, bursting up the middle of the Saints defence to score from 30 metres out. Have to note the footwork from Green there. A couple of jinking steps left two or three defenders flat footed and created the space for Dom to score.

After Pat converted it was 24-6 with 25 minutes left but Wigan were not clever on the restart. Ben Flower got in Sam Tomkins way and forced a knock on. Smith was lucky not to be penalised for kicking the ball dead offside. Sky's commentators screamed for a yellow card but I remember a Bradford player doing exactly that during the 2007 play off come back and that didn't result in a yellow either. Nor did Sky's commentators scream for a yellow back then! To be fair it should have been a yellow for a professional foul but Sky's cheerleading for players to be sent from the field is pretty poor taste.

Anyway that error was converted into a soft try for Francis Meli but Percival's missed conversion left the score at 24-10.

Even when Saints got a rare break on 68 minutes to make it 24-16, I still never felt this result was under threat. Tom Makinson finished Meli's break down the left and Percival converted, but you just couldn't see Saints scoring twice.

They never got momentum anyway because within three minutes Wigan had won the game for a second, or perhaps third, time when Pat finished beautifully in the left corner despite a good defensive effort from the last defender. His conversion missed but at 28-16 the game was won. You cannot beat a happy Good Friday!

Reaction to the Action

Shaun Wane: "I thought Pat Richards was far and away our best player. He's been consistently fantastic for us this year. He's in our leadership group and leads the team well. The way he played today was really impressive. (Dom Crosby) is a good kid and he's only going to get better. He's a baby and in three or four years' time we will see him at his best. The 18 points (half time lead) didn't register in my head. I wasn't happy at half-time. We should have been a lot more clinical with our finishing. I said at half-time 'it's nil apiece' because they were never going to be dead and buried. We showed a lot of character but we were far from at our best. We made too many errors. Credit to St Helens, they had a few missing, like us. Both teams were busted."

St Helens coach Nathan Brown: "The effort and commitment was terrific but we let ourselves down with our defence, especially in the first 15 or 20 minutes. I thought offensively we stretched them plenty in the second half but the most disappointing aspect was our defensive performance. It was an enjoyable occasion. It's great to hear all the fans singing and the way both sets of supporters get into the concept. But it's two points at the end of the day. I was pleased with the way we handled some adversity. We had a lot of men in key positions not playing and we lost a few players to injury during the game."

Team Sheets

- Wigan Position St Helens 1
1 Sam Tomkins Full Back Tom Makinson 21
2 Josh Charnley Winger Ade Gardner 2
3 Darrell Goulding Centre Jordan Turner 3
17 Iain Thornley Centre Mark Percival 30
5 Pat Richards Winger Francis Meli 5
6 Blake Green Stand Off Paul Wellens 1
7 Matty Smith Scrum Half Jon Wilkin 12
26 Dom Crosby Prop Anthony Laffranchi 14
9 Mike McIlorum Hooker Stuart Howarth 36
15 Ben Flower Prop Louie
16 Chris Tuson 2nd Row Josh Jones 19
12 Liam Farrell 2nd Row Willie Manu 13
13 Sean O'Loughlin L.Forward Anthony Walker 27
4 Jack Hughes Substitute Sia Soliola 4
21 Scott Taylor Substitute Mark Flanagan 15
23 Logan Tomkins Substitute Paul Clough 16
29 Greg Burke Substitute Alex Walmsley 25
- Shaun Wane Coach Nathan Brown -

Score Sheet

Wigan Warriors 28 --- St Helens 16
Tries (5):
Pat Richards 2
Sam Tomkins
Josh Charnley
Dom Crosby
--- Tries (3):
Paul Clough
Francis Meli
Tom Makinson
Pat Richards 4/5
--- Goals:
Mark Percival 2/3

Scoring and Incident Pattern

07mins:57 Wigan 04 St Helens 00 Try: Pat Richards
- Wigan 06 St Helens 00 Conversion: Pat Richards (1/1)
22mins:26 Wigan 10 St Helens 00 Try: Sam Tomkins
- Wigan 12 St Helens 00 Conversion: Pat Richards (2/2)
32mins:32 Wigan 16 St Helens 00 Try: Josh Charnley
- Wigan 18 St Helens 00 Conversion: Pat Richards (3/3)
Half Time Wigan Warriors 18 St Helens 00
44mins:22 Wigan 18 St Helens 04 Try: Paul Clough
- Wigan 18 St Helens 06 Conversion: Mark Percival (1/1)
54mins:42 Wigan 22 St Helens 06 Try: Dom Crosby
- Wigan 24 St Helens 06 Conversion: Pat Richards (4/4)
58mins:24 Wigan 24 St Helens 10 Try: Francis Meli
- Wigan 24 St Helens 10 M.Percival Missed Conversion (1/2)
68mins:13 Wigan 24 St Helens 14 Try: Tom Makinson
- Wigan 24 St Helens 16 Conversion: Mark Percival (2/3)
71mins:52 Wigan 28 St Helens 16 Try: Pat Richards (2)
- Wigan 28 St Helens 16 P.Richards Missed Conversion (4/5)
Full Time Wigan Warriors 28 St Helens 16

Video Highlights


Richard Silverwood (Video Referee: Phil Bentham)

Key Stats

Clean Breaks: lll Wigan 14   St Helens 4
Offloads:   Wigan 3   St Helens 17
Penalties Conceded:   Wigan 5   St Helens 4
Errors:   Wigan 16   St Helens 12
Completion Rate:   Wigan 62%   St Helens 66%

Match Attendance



Sunny but cold in the shade.

League Table at Conclusion of Super League 18 - Round 9

- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 Wigan Warriors 9 6 1 2 287 117 +170 13
2 Catalan Dragons 9 6 1 2 240 179 +61 13
3 Huddersfield Giants 9 6 0 3 210 146 +64 12
4 Warrington Wolves 9 5 1 3 223 159 +64 11
5 St Helens 9 5 1 3 194 162 +32 11
6 Bradford Bulls 9 4 2 3 227 182 +45 10
7 Hull Kingston Rovers 9 5 0 4 251 224 +27 10
8 Leeds Rhinos 7 4 1 2 154 110 +44 9
9 Wakefield Wildcats 8 3 1 4 186 198 -12 7
10 Widnes Vikings 8 3 1 4 164 242 -78 7
11 Hull FC 9 2 2 5 172 195 -23 6
12 London Broncos 9 2 1 6 166 244 -78 5
13 Salford City Reds 9 2 1 6 120 299 -179 5
14 Castleford Tigers 9 1 1 7 139 276 -137 3

Top Eight Qualify for the Play Offs

Round 9 Results
Thu 28 Mar Leeds Rhinos 18 Bradford Bulls 18 16,604
Thu 28 Mar London Broncos 24 Catalan Dragons 30 1,136
Fri 29 Mar Hull FC 10 Hull Kingston Rovers 23 19,064
Fri 29 Mar Wigan Warriors 28 St Helens 16 23,861
Fri 29 Mar Salford City Reds 21 Huddersfield Giants 20 2,788
Fri 29 Mar Widnes Vikings 38 Warrington Wolves 22 9,271
Fri 29 Mar Castleford Tigers 16 Wakefield Wildcats 37 7,705

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