St Helens scrum-half Sean
Long cast his spell on woeful Wigan to add some late gloss to the
Millennium Magic weekend in Cardiff.
Still smarting from their
34-18 defeat at the Millennium Stadium 12 months earlier and a
46-10 Good Friday mauling at Knowsley Road, the Warriors suffered
yet more misery at the hands of their arch rivals.
With Long in magnificent form, Saints were simply irresistible
as they cut loose against some pathetic defence with six
high-class tries before half-time, when they led 35-0, and they
added four more after the break.
When Saints reached the half-century mark, Wigan fans among the
32,516 crowd - which took the total for the two days to a bumper
63,144 - began to head for the exits, even though there was still
half-an-hour of the match left.
Long, so often Wigan's nemesis, was at the heart of the
destruction, scoring three tries and kicking seven goals,
including a cheeky drop goal, for a personal haul of 27 points.
Long kept his footing on the slippery surface to wrongfoot
Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin and swerve past full-back Richard
Mathers for the game's first try after only five minutes.
If Mathers was uncomfortable over his role in the first score,
he will be having recurring nightmares over his part in Saints'
second try, a 70-metre effort which highlighted the current gulf
in class between these two old rivals.
Second rower Jon Wilkin took Jason Cayless' pass to go through
a gaping hole in the Warriors defence and, without support,
decided to take on the full-back. A thunderous hand-off sent
Mathers sprawling and left the second rower with a clear run to
Long converted both tries to give his side a 12-0 lead and it
got even worse for Wigan on 19 minutes when Saints winger Francis
Meli grabbed a controversial 60-metre try.
Meli looked to be offside when his centre Willie Talau palmed
the ball back from an offload by O'Loughlin and appeared to be
waiting for the whistle after collecting the ball.
Referee Phil Bentham allowed play to continue before passing
the decision on to video official Richard Silverwood, who stunned
Wigan fans by giving the green light.
The score clearly dispirited Wigan, whose defence cracked three
more times in alarming fashion in a devastating seven-minute
Right winger Ade Gardner pounced on a grubber kick from Matt
Gidley for his 12th try of the season, second rower Lee Gilmour
broke clear to get Talau over and Long supported a break by
stand-off Leon Pryce to grab his second try.
Long took his goal tally to five from six attempts and edged
his side further ahead with a one-pointer four minutes before the
break, which could not come quick enough for a bedraggled Wigan
The Warriors at least they had the satisfaction of scoring the
first try of the second half.
Scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, who will set off for New Zealand
straight after the match to link up with his country ahead of
Friday's centenary Test in Sydney, jinked his way over within two
minutes of the re-start.
There would have been some concern from the Kiwis camp when
Leuluai came up clutching his left arm but he managed to continue.
His problems did not end there, though, for he was put on
report for an alleged trip on Gardner and could face the threat of
St Helens, meanwhile, continued their impressive form from the
first half, with Long supporting a break by Gidley to complete his
hat-trick and full-back Paul Wellens creating a second try for
Gardner then grabbed his second try and Long took his goal
tally to seven to bring up his side's half-century and extend
their lead to 51-4.
Saints coach Daniel Anderson took the opportunity to rest both
his half-backs ahead of next week's Challenge Cup-tie with
Warrington and that allowed Wigan some respite.
Second rower Harrison Hansen and hooker Mick Higham both scored
tries and Pat Richards kicked both conversions before Gilmour went
over for Saints' 10th try and Gidley added the goal.