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Match Report: St Helens 10 Wigan 6
Posted by Bilko on August 01 2009 - 07:00

Click: Last Derby - Click: Last Match - Click: Next Match - Click: Next Derby

St Helens v Wigan Warriors - Engage Super League XIV Round 23.
Friday 31st July 2009. Kick Off 8:00pm at
Knowsley Road.

Match Report

Well I thought Wigan got a lesson in this match and despite leading for all but four minutes of the second half I actually think the overall result was a fair one.

Wigan just didn't compose themselves both early and late in the game and that is the lesson to take from it.

Saints tactics were clear - they would defend to death in the first twenty minutes. They were quick off the line and tried to smother us. That made it hard for us to get up field and helped create good attacking positions for them.

But when Wigan did get into good attacking positions - the end result was generally poor. For example when Wigan's first chance came after 6 minutes. With the try line begging Cameron Phelps fired to Amos Roberts on the right wing but he had shot too early, the ball went behind him into touch for an incomplete set - a pattern that would continue for Wigan.

The referee though got Saints into position to take the lead after he penalised Joel Tomkins for moving off the mark. He thought he wasn't tackled but the ref clearly called for him to play the ball - twice! So in the 10th minute, from under the sticks, Leon Pryce swung the ball wide to Paul Wellens who's neat kick bounced very kindly for Matt Gidley to score. Very fortunate bounce but as I always say in these reports you take your luck in this game. Kyle Eastmond missed the conversion so the lead was only 4-0.

Wigan soon had a chance to respond after an interference penalty against Tony Puletua but we again failed to complete the set with Thomas Leuluai failing to take a good pass from Mark Riddell.

On 17 minutes a correct "back to one" call from Ben Thaler got Wigan in attacking position to which Sam Tomkins kick was forced dead for a drop out. But from it - first tackle - Leuluai hit Harrison Hansen with a short ball that he was never likely to take with two defenders on him. Another wasted incomplete set.

Saints had more attacks than Wigan and our defence was awesome but the difference was when Saints were on the last tackle it was generally on our goal line. Although twice they wasted opportunities by not realising it was the last. One of these saw Keiron Cunningham trapped and with the referee just about to call "held" Sam Tomkins gave his old knees a crumping. Despite his moaning it was 100% legal. The ref hadn't called held so he is entitled to tackle him!

On 24 minutes two interference penalties got Wigan attacking again but for a fourth time in five attacks they failed to complete the set - this time Leuluai threw the ball in touch. For me the pass wasn't on again, not good from Tommy!

This is the lesson Wigan have to learn. Five attacks - Four incomplete sets. That's why we lost this. You've got to get them repeating! Dink in the in goal or something to put pressure on them but for me we just kept letting them off the hook.

Saints meanwhile kept battering our line and OK we stood up to the test well in defence but that left us deep in our half when attacking. We in return just didn't push Saints back enough.

Moments after a two minute injury delay (Darrell Goulding left the field injured with a dislocated shoulder) Wigan finally reached a last tackle but again it was a poor end to the set which saw Roberts put in a nothing kick into touch.

Half time was approaching and quite honestly I was chuffed with 4-0. I think Wigan had played terrible but much of this was to the credit of St Helens who for me were just so much quicker off the line in defence. You can argue all day whether it was a legal ten metres or not from the referee but if you can get away with it....do it!

Wigan though did finish the half strongly. My man of the match Mark Flanagan (he worked his tits off) was sent racing away by a short ball from Joel Tomkins. It was two on one and all he needed to do was draw Flannery in and pass inside for Sam Tomkins to touch down. But they completely bombed it. Summed up the way we'd played this half. That would have been a perfect score with 90 seconds to go till half time.

Fortunately we got another chance because Thaler deemed Saints had knocked on trying to recover the ball. At the scrum we had 70 seconds left and amazingly we completed a good set which forced a drop out. Pressure building - its a simple game rugby league and you know - that pressure would tell!

With time about to expire, Sam Tomkins put in a chip over the top towards Francis Meli. He proved in Edinburgh what a defensive liability he is and completely flapped at it again. Pretty dumb rugby from Meli because time was up, meaning he just needed to hack it dead but instead he tried to pick it up - fumbled - and Sam pounced just before Paul Wellens for the try. Richards converted to make it 6-4. Like I said I thought 4-0 flattered us but 6-4 was a huge bonus.

We just proved though in 70 seconds what you need to do. Complete your sets with a good kick into the in goal and pressure will tell - but Wigan just didn't do it enough.

Anyway into the second half and we did play much better. We started to get the kicks in, thus completing sets, which forced Saints to come out of their own twenty. Most of the kicks were deep ones in fairness but the one time we put in an excellent kick into the Saints in goal, no player read it because for some reason we did it on a second tackle. It was so mis-read Pryce couldn't believe that he had an easy run out of the in goal area. He should have been trapped.

It was definite midfield battle for most of the half but around the 60-70 minute mark Wigan visibly started to find holes up the middle with Saints starting to tire. Three big attacks on the Saints line were seen out by a St Helens defensive effort which matched the goal line efforts of Wigan first half.

Into the final ten minutes it was still a narrow 6-4 lead but we were now looking to close the game out. Again though we were not clever enough in executing it. On 70 minutes, thirty from the Saints line, Joel Tomkins knocked on attempting a stupid offload. Why was he doing it? These incomplete sets kept Saints alive and inevitably they would punish.

From that mistake Saints forced a drop out and although the repeat set came to nothing, it had put us on the back foot instead of them, even though we did complete our next two sets with decent last tackle kicks.

Five minutes was left on the clock now and Wigan did look like they would hang on but in the end Saints did to us what we did to them late first half.

Lovely kick from Eastmond saw Leuluai trapped in the in goal. Now I'm watching the action again writing this with the help of Sky+ but for me Leuluai was a bit dumb. He collected under the sticks but didn't use the posts to get out of the in goal. Players can't tackle through a post so why didn't he use the posts to his advantage? Instead he ran wide of it and ended up trapped by James Graham. I don't think that was clever play.

From the drop out Saints had good field position which saw Eastmond spin out of the combined missed tackle of Leuluai and Fielden and momentum saw him slide over under the posts from five metres out. Easy conversion - 10-6 and game over.

Like I said I thought Saints deserved that simply because they were just that bit more clever than us. We had a poor first half and in the end it came back to haunt us.

Wigan still had one last chance but with everyone expecting a kick towards the in goal - Leuluai sliced a kick that was behind all of them. That completed a shocking night personally for him. You can read this report back and most of Wigan's negative plays came from him.

So in the end a cruel defeat but if we learn the lessons from it, it'll do us good. Two games in a row against the top two and we were four minutes away from maximum points. Our defence in both matches was superb and I wonder if any Warrington fans seriously believe that their side could put in a defensive effort like that? If Wigan repeat that next week we'll be queuing up for Wembley tickets a week Monday - simple as that!

Well done to Saints. They won good despite injuries. But of course Wigan's injuries - to Tim Smith, Sean O'Loughlin, Phil Bailey, Eamon O'Carroll plus Gareth Hock's suspension and Darrell Goulding injured during the match - were totally insignificant and irrelevant. To believe the media reaction you'd think we were full strength!

Reaction to the Action

Brian Noble: "It was a bit of a kick in the guts at the end there. But I have to say our effort and defence were great, as were Saints'. I thought we certainly deserved something from the game. We didn't quite finish them off when we had a bit of pressure at their end in the second half, but I am certainly proud of the players again. There were some good performances, and on any other given day you win those games. I just thought we needed one more score, because St Helens will always keep going. We have seen that over the years."

St Helens coach Mick Potter: "It was very tense - we looked down and out there midway through the second half. It was a good score at the right time. It didn't leave them much time to come back, and sometimes that's the way to do it. If you score too early it gives the other team time to come back. But it was timed perfectly - although I'm not sure if it was measured! (Eastmond is) very quick, very elusive and showed what he can do when he takes the line on. He's got other things he needs to work on, but taking on the line is not one of them. He's got some promise, hasn't he?"

Team Sheets

- St Helens Position Wigan -
1 Paul Wellens Full Back Cameron Phelps 21
2 Ade Gardner Winger Amos Roberts 2
3 Matt Gidley Centre Martin Gleeson 22
11 Lee Gilmour Centre George Carmont 4
5 Francis Meli Winger Pat Richards 5
6 Leon Pryce Stand Off Sam Tomkins 25
18 Kyle Eastmond Scrum Half Thomas Leuluai 7
10 James Graham Prop Andy Coley 15
9 Keiron Cunningham Hooker Mark Riddell 9
16 Tony Puletua Prop Paul Prescott 19
12 Jon Wilkin 2nd Row Harrison Hansen 16
13 Chris Flannery 2nd Row Joel Tomkins 14
24 Andrew Dixon L.Forward Mark Flanagan 26
-
17 Paul Clough Substitute Darrell Goulding 3
28 Matty Ashurst Substitute Stuart Fielden 8
29 Tom Armstrong Substitute Iafeta Paleaaesina 10
31 Jacob Emmitt Substitute Lee Mossop 24

Score Sheet

St Helens 10 --- Wigan Warriors 06
Tries (2):
Matt Gidley
Kyle Eastmond
--- Tries (1):
Sam Tomkins
 
Goals:
Kyle Eastmond 1/2
--- Goals:
Pat Richards 1/1

Scoring and Incident Pattern

09mins:35 St Helens 04 Wigan 00 Try: Matt Gidley
- St Helens 04 Wigan 00 K.Eastmond Missed Conversion (0/1)
35mins:47 WIGAN INJURY Darrell Goulding (Dislocated Shoulder)
39mins:59 St Helens 04 Wigan 04 Try: Sam Tomkins (Video Ref)
- St Helens 04 Wigan 06 Conversion: Pat Richards (1/1)
Half Time St Helens 04 Wigan Warriors 06
66mins:38 VIDEO REF NO TRY Lee Gilmour (Knock On)
76mins:12 St Helens 08 Wigan 06 Try: Kyle Eastmond (Video Ref)
- St Helens 10 Wigan 06 Conversion: Kyle Eastmond (1/2)
Full Time St Helens 10 Wigan Warriors 06

Referee

Ben Thaler (Wakefield)

Penalties Conceded

St Helens 4 Wigan 6

Video Referee

Phil Bentham (Warrington)

Match Attendance

15,563

Television

Weather

Drizzly Rain.

League Table at Conclusion of Super League 14 Round 23

- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 St Helens 23 18 0 5 689 388 +301 36
2 Leeds Rhinos 23 17 0 6 613 407 +206 34
3 Huddersfield Giants 23 16 0 7 572 344 +228 32
4 Hull Kingston Rovers 23 14 1 8 560 456 +104 29
5 Wigan Warriors 23 12 0 11 544 439 +105 24
6 Wakefield Wildcats 23 12 0 11 541 539 +2 24
7 Castleford Tigers 23 12 0 11 524 575 -51 24
8 Harlequins 22 11 0 11 511 505 +6 22
9 Warrington Wolves 23 11 0 12 545 555 -10 22
10 Catalans Dragons 22 10 0 12 515 550 -35 20
11 Hull FC 23 9 0 14 430 544 -114 18
12 Bradford Bulls 22 7 1 14 476 578 -102 15
13 Salford City Reds 22 6 0 16 362 626 -264 12
14 Celtic Crusaders 23 3 0 20 307 683 -376 6

Round 23 Results
Fri 31 July Hull FC 0 Huddersfield Giants 24 11,191
Fri 31 July St Helens 10 Wigan Warriors 6 15,563
Fri 31 July Salford City Reds 24 Wakefield Wildcats 30 3,151
Sat 1 Aug Leeds Rhinos 24 Warrington Wolves 22 13,386
Sat 1 Aug Catalan Dragons 34 Celtic Crusaders 0 6,874
Sun 2 Aug Bradford Bulls 14 Harlequins 22 7,813
Sun 2 Aug Castleford Tigers 28 Hull Kingston Rovers 46 8,709

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