Both Shaun Wane and St Helens' Mike Rush promised their would be
"no flashpoints" in this game but that idea didn't last 10 seconds
with Dom Crosby going on report for use of the knees.
This was a
very physical contest from the off and I didn't think their was
much between the sides in the opening quarter despite the opening
score being found by Saints Joe Greenwood, converted by Tommy
Makinson for 6-0.
The more the half wore on though, the more Saints got on top and
the second quarter was horrible from a Wigan point of view. Ryan
Hampshire struggled at full back and threw a gift interception for
Adam Swift to return for 10-0 on 21 minutes.
On the back of that, Wigan just went into a total mess. Liam
Farrell in particular was guilty of losing it, conceding two back
to back penalties for niggling and although Saints only scored two
further tries in the final three minutes of the half, they had been
more than deserved. First Atelea Vea scored with Wigan guilty of
not playing to the whistle and then Makinson finished a great move
off in the right corner. Two conversions had Saints 22-0 up by half
At this point your thinking the half back combination of George
Williams and Matty Smith just isn't working and with Hampshire
struggling at the back and Farrell losing it mentally, Wigan in
this spell just collapsed really.
That said, the first twenty of the second half was much better
and their were plenty of positives in this spell. Matty Bowen was
on at full back now and he calmed us down a lot I thought. The
biggest difference though was a simple one. We started to just
complete sets and that helped us get forward and put Saints on the
back foot. Rugby League can be that simple sometimes.
After six minutes, Wigan got on the scoreboard with a kick to
the right from Matty Smith being hunted by Josh Charnley. It was
right in front of me and Jordan Turner never looked up at the bomb
once. He was totally fixated on blocking Charnley expecting someone
else to deal with the bomb, but no one did and Josh collected,
passed inside to Connor Farrell who sent John Bateman over. Smith
converted for 22-6.
Wigan were now on the front foot continually and set up the
final quarter well when Connor Farrell claimed a barge over try
under immense defensive pressure on the hour mark. Smith converted
for 22-12 and Connor almost scored again soon after for what could
have been 22-18 if he had not been held up.
Saints in the end though finished the stronger and we shouldn't
read anything into that because they had two extra substitutes than
us. In effect those two extra were old war horses Paul Wellens and
Lance Hohaia and by enthusiastic energy alone they lifted Saints to
a stronger finish that Wigan couldn't match. So Saints found the
last try from Joe Greenwood, which Makinson converted for a 28-12
All in all the match provided plenty of negatives in a horrible
second quarter but at least their were positives for Wigan in the
twenty minutes after the half time. Some are pointing to our pack
being out muscled but let's remember that Sean O'Loughlin, Lee
Mossop, Taulima Tautai and Ben Flower are still to be added to that
Time will tell if we are ready for the kick off against Widnes
but if your feeling low about us after these last two games,
remember the 2013 pre season included a dire 20-0 loss at
Warrington before we went on to start the year with a 42-0 win at
Salford. So, the real test is still to come!