Form team St Helens
cruised to a 15th straight win and a crushing hat-trick of engage
Super League derby triumphs against 12-man Wigan at the JJB
Stadium on Friday night.
The Warriors were forced to play all
but the first five minutes a man short after hooker Michael
McIlorum was sent off by referee Ashley Klein for a high tackle on
Great Britain winger Ade Gardner and Saints made them pay with an
Scrum-half Sean Long scored one of the tries and kicked six
goals from seven attempts on his 300th appearance for free-scoring
Saints, who have piled up 214 points in their last four matches
and run in 149 in three games against Wigan this year.
Poor McIlorum was forced to watch the latest embarrassment from
the stand after being shown the fastest red card of the season.
It had been an ignominious opening by the youngster, whose
knock-on in the first set of tackles had gifted Saints possession
from which they scored the game's first try.
Wigan could not have envisaged a worst start as they set out to
atone for two heavy defeats by their arch rivals already this year
at Knowsley Road and the Millennium Stadium.
They went into the game without skipper Sean O'Loughlin and
prolific scorer Pat Richards, whose illness left them without a
recognised goalkicker, and they were quickly on the back foot
after conceding two tries in the first 12 minutes.
Long, who began his professional career at Wigan 12 years ago,
was given a guard of honour by his St Helens team-mates as he
entered the field to mark his landmark occasion and he was quickly
into the action.
It was his pass that sent second rower Lee Gilmour crashing
over for Saints' first try after just two minutes and he added the
When hooker Keiron Cunningham burst through through the
attempted tackles of Trent Barrett and Richard Mathers 10 minutes
later to grab a second try, Wigan looked to be heading for another
Both Saints wingers ought to have added to the try haul but
Gardner's effort was disallowed for a forward pass and Francis
Meli dropped Leon Pryce's pass with a clear run to the line.
The misses began to look costly when Wigan scrum-half Thomas
Leuluai took a return pass from Gareth Hock to cross for a
21st-minute try and Cameron Phelps kicked his first goal in
But substitute hooker James Roby took over from where
Cunningham left off by forcing his way over for a close-range try
on 29 minutes and Long kicked his third goal.
And Saints added a fourth try on the stroke of half-time when
Long and Pryce combined to get the ball out to an unmarked Matt
Gidley, who unselfishly sent Gardner in for his 25th try of the
Wigan coach Brian Noble belatedly sent on replacement hooker
Micky Higham before half-time, relieving Leuluai of his extra
duties, but the former St Helens man was partly responsible for
conceding the next try six minutes into the second half.
His pass meant for Stuart Fielden was misdirected and Saints
second rower Jon Wilkin was quick to react, dribbling the ball
towards the line before picking up and scoring in one movement.
Wigan were again all at sea five minutes later when substitute
Chris Flannery's kick exposed a huge hole in the home defence,
enabling Gidley to follow up and score a soft try.
Further evidence that it was not Wigan's day came when winger
Liam Colbon and Leuluai both had tries disallowed by video referee
Wigan fans among the 19,958 crowd began heading for the exits
on 57 minutes when a superb offload from Leon Pryce sent his
half-back partner Long over for the visitors' seventh try and the
scorer added the conversion before taking a deserved breather.
Sweet passing along the line then created an overlap from which
Gardner scored his second try, his 23rd in Super League this year,
and Gidley added the touchline goal.
Wigan were a badly-beaten team but they had the consolation of
finishing the scoring when Higham grabbed a late try and Phelps
kicked a second goal.