Saints end Warriors season.
The away trip
to St Helens proved to be a match too far for the Warriors as they went down
24-8 in very wet conditions at Knowsley Road.
Wigan huffed and puffed
during the second half but had absolutely no answer to the superb defensive
display produced by Saints.
The writing was on the wall for Wigan in the first set of six when Craig
Smith criminally knocked on. Darren Britt was stopped short of the line but a
wide pass from Sean Long allowed Anthony Stewart to the score in the corner
after just 90 seconds. Paul Sculthorpe failed to add the extras but ill
discipline from Wigan allowed him to make it 6-0 after 7 minutes.
Then a second vital error from the Warriors allowed Saints to increase there
lead further. Adrian Lam, who had probably his worst ever Wigan performance in
this game, kicked out on the full. Saints used the shortened field well and Sean
Long made a great run from dummy half which sprung the gap for Chris Joynt to
score. However Sculthorpe again missed the conversion so it was a 10-0 lead that
Saints held after 13 minutes.
Wigan finally got on the scoreboard in 22nd minute when Andy Farrell slotted
over a penalty but Paul Sculthorpe cancelled it out four minutes later by
kicking a penalty of his own following a bit of hand bagging from Craig Smith
and Sean Long. Both players where set to the sin bin and Smith penalised for
apparent use of the elbow.
Sculthorpe then missed a penalty and moments after that Wigan got their only
four pointer of the game. Mick Cassidy produced a great solo try after beating
four defenders on the burst in what was our first real attack of the game.
Farrell converted and despite not playing well we were in the game at 12-8 after
Saints came straight back at Wigan though, Keiron Cunningham scored four
minutes before the break. After three misses from Sculthorpe, Long took over the
kicking duties and converted the try to stretch Saints lead back to ten points.
The ended the first half scoring at 18-8 to St Helens.
Wigan needed the first points of the second half and they came out looking
for it. They mounted a sustained spell of pressure for the first time in the
game and Shaun Briscoe went over in the corner but it was ruled out by the video
referee who ruled that he had touched the corner flag.
The Warriors were applying the pressure but when Saints finally got the ball
the outstanding Long produced a superb chip kick which allowed Sculthorpe to
increase the lead. Long conversion made the score 24-8 on 58 minutes.
After that try we then lost Harvey Howard with concussion, Mick Cassidy with
a calf tear and Terry Newton aggravated his elbow injury.
In the last quarter, Wigan tried to get back in the game but couldn't thwart
the excellent goal line defence from Saints. Kris Radlinski was stopped just
short of the line and Brian Carney's break down the right coming to nothing.
At the final hooter the Wigan fans gave the lads a great cheer for a
fantastic season. Dave Furner and Gary Connolly who are both leaving us for
pastures new got special attention and it was great to see Dave kiss his Wigan
badge. He may be off to Leeds but there's no doubt he wishes he was staying
here. His heart is well and truly in Wigan.
At the end of the day Saints deserved the victory. Wigan had far too many
walking wounded on the pitch and like our rivals the year before the injuries
meant it was just too big a task.
At the end of the game coach Stuart Raper said:
"Losing is always
tough, especially when it's your last game of the season,"
"That try before half time was hard on us but I thought we came out in the
second half really strongly, Briscoe went pretty close and that could have
changed the game for us.
"The conditions changed everyone's game plan and you've got to give credit
to St Helens, they were definitely the better side on the day."