Sean Long returned to
inspire St Helens to their best win of the season, 46-10 at the
expense of his old club Wigan in a one-sided derby in front of a
capacity 17,500 crowd at Knowsley Road.
Saints have made a
stuttering start to the season but they hit their straps against
their arch rivals, with Long in dominant form on his return from a
two-match absence with a knee injury.
The former Great Britain half-back scored one try, had a hand
in three others and kicked four goals to underline his value to
Saints, who were still without four international forwards
through injury, never looked back after running in 22 points in
the first 26 minutes to establish a stranglehold on the game.
The Wigan line was under almost constant siege as the home side
struck a purple patch in the opening quarter.
Centre Matt Gidley dropped Jon Wilkin's pass with the line at
his mercy and Lee Gilmour and Long were both denied by last-gasp
tackles from Pat Richards.
It was no surprise when Saints opened the scoring through
centre Willie Talau, who went over after taking a superb pass
behind his back by Leon Pryce.
Long missed the conversion but made up for it with a successful
penalty, one of a series awarded against Wigan by referee Richard
Long and Chris Flannery then combined to get Gidley over and
Wigan were reduced to 12 men with the sin-binning of hooker Mickey
Higham for persistent interference by his team.
Saints made their numerical advantage tell by scoring two
further tries in a five-minute spell. James Graham grabbed his
fourth of the season after taking Maurie Fa'asavalu's offload and
captain Paul Wellens went over straight from a scrum.
Long kicked a third goal to make it 22-0 and, even when Wigan
reached the Saints line in their first serious attack, Phil
Bailey's try was disallowed for obstruction.
Little went right for the Warriors, who were forced into a
reshuffle after losing full-back Richards with a facial injury.
They pulled a try back early in the second half when
replacement hooker Michael McIlorum was driven over from dummy
half and Sean O'Loughlin kicked his first goal of the season but
it proved to nothing more than a dent in Saints' impressive
When makeshift full-back Liam Colbon failed to clear Long's
grubber kick, the scrum-half followed up to claim the vital touch
and he also sent winger Francis Meli over for a try before taking
a well-earned rest.
Pryce also grabbed a deserved try before Wigan pulled one back
when Harrison Hansen sent centre George Carmont through a gap for
a consolation score.
But Saints finished with a flourish, Meli claiming his second
try, which teenage substitute Kyle Eastmond goaled, and the young
half-back put the seal on an impressive show with a 40-metre dash
to the line for his side's ninth try.