Wigan stretched their dominance of the
Easter Derby to a seventh season with a magnificent display
against a ramshackle Saints outfit.
I must admit I turned up, looking at the
Saints bench including Alex Walmsley and James Roby, and
thought that would be tough, especially with Sam Powell
expected to do 80 minutes.
A strong bench was an obvious clear
tactic from Keiron Cunningham but it actually failed
miserably and in truth I think KC was heavily out-coached
in this game. I mean from a Saints point of view I really
don't understand why you keep Theo Fages out the team for
most of the season then throw him into a big derby like
this? How much is that a pie in the face for Travis Burns
I think all that bizarre and I think it
contributed to Saints looking an absolute mess in this
game. They were flattered to score twice in all honest.
Wigan though should take all the praise.
The defensive standards have been immense all year and it
was maintained again in this one. For the fourth time in
seven league games we kept the opposition try-less until
the second half and it was a three set defensive stand by
us in the opening quarter that proved pivotal to the
After that early Saints pressure, Wigan
got up the other end and found three tries to take 0-0 to a
16-0 lead between the 20th and 31st Minutes.
The damage all came down the right with
first Dom Manfredi ghosting through some weak tackling for
the first score and then his diagonal run from deep set up
the territory for Sam Powell to get on the end of his own
grubber near the posts.
Then Joel Tomkins, playing for the first
time this season, went through more awful defending on the
right to cement that 16-0 lead, Matty Smith converting the
latter two tries.
Saints were a bit shell-shocked but
Wigan had to maintain that dominance by seeing off the time
until the break, which they managed to do.
The second half began with both sides
producing some very scrappy rugby. First try after the
interval was always going to be important but Wigan did
they right thing when they got a penalty shot in "taking
the two" for 18-0 after 50 minutes.
Soon after that our defensive strength
was tested to the max with a seven minute spell that saw us
having no possession what so ever. Saints looked pretty
clueless for ideas but we managed to hold out for 28 play
the balls before the pressure finally told with Joe
Given the pressure, you could hardly
fault Wigan because they had held out for so long. However
given recent collapses around the hour mark against
Salford, Hull FC and Widnes it left me nervous for the
A knock on from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook
finally helped Wigan get some ball and they remained calm
and composed enough to find a match clinching try. It fell
for Matty Smith to go through a gap and final end a 27
match drought since he last scored a try away at Wakefield
last April. He also converted for 24-6.
Saints never went away and found a late
consolation through from Theo Fages. That still left a few
jitters in the final ten minutes but it was the clock soon
dwindled away to complete a good job all round by Wigan.
Dom Manfredi was man of the match for
me, because his two breaks broke the game, but massive
wraps have to go to Sam Powell. 53 Tackles he made and that
highlights his dominance of the ruck area. Impressive that
his best spell also was when James Roby came off the bench,
topped off by his superb solo try. More of that please!
Also have to mention Taulima Tautai
who's in good form recently and the shot by Nick Gregson to
deny Kyle Amor a try late on. If that gets beaten for
tackle of the year at the end of season awards then I don't
want to miss a better one.
The only complaint, and it's harsh to
complain to much after a performance like this, is that we
didn't punch home our dominance on the scoreboard. We had
2-3 massive breaks second half that were not finished off.
You have to remind yourself that we do
have key "pivots" missing like Sam Tomkins, George Williams
and Micky McIlorum but it's still frustrating all the same.
Shaun Wane said it himself after about us needing to be
"smarter" because really I think this was more a 40-6 that
a 24-12 and the Leeds came should have been a heavy win
Perhaps its good at the moment that we
aren't firing in attack because it's keeping that superb
defensive structure honest? Someone will be ripe for a
spanking soon and looking at the Hull KR squad for Monday
it could well be them.
Also it's worth remembering that we only
picked up 9 points all season at away venues. We are
already up to six points with up to 11 away games yet to
play. That should hopefully help build some inner steel
into the squad and with that I hope the confidence in
attack builds in the team. We shall see what this win does
for the lads.