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Match Report: St Helens 16 Wigan 16
Posted by Bilko on February 13 2011 - 16:54

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

St Helens v Wigan Warriors - Engage Super League XVI Round 1.
Saturday 12th February 2011. Kick Off 7:00pm at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Match Played Indoors with Stadium Roof Closed.

Normally I'd be devastated with surrendering a late 16-0 lead to St Helens and only get a point, but I'm quite content with this result because the performance was their for all to see.

Especially when you consider we lost our stand off Paul Deacon for most of the game, meaning we had an interchange option less, on top of the absences of Pat Richards, Amos Roberts, Brett Finch and Stuart Fielden so I thought 16-16 and a match we should really have won was great effort. It says a lot that we can have those four players absent but still compete very well with one of our title rivals.

Do you think if Saints lost the equivalent, say Paul Wellens, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce and James Graham, then Kyle Eastmond came off the pitch 20 mins into the match that they'd compete with us? I don't think so! Fair enough Josh Perry and Chris Flannery were also injured for Saints but whatever five quality players you wish to swap for our injured yesterday, I don't think Saints would be able to cope like we did. It really highlighted our squad depth. Defensively we were outstanding yet again.

Also Wigan built up a 16-0 lead off the back of receiving just 1 penalty, that was our total in the first 65 minutes. Amazing! Saints came back during a spell in which they got 5 penalties. I think 4 came in a row in fairness but still, it says a lot!

First attack of the match went to Saints in the 4th minute. They got a full set on our line after Sean O'Loughlin was penalised for ball stealing. Although Saints forced a drop out, Wigan withheld the pressure as Michael Shenton knocked on whilst chiming at the line. Another penalty minutes later gave more pressure to the Saints but Wigan hounded Saints into a knock on again, this time Jonny Lomax the guilty man.

First attack for the champions came in the 10th minute and we immediately got points on the board. George Carmont broke from half way and found support from O'Loughlin. Although Sam Tomkins was caught, quick play the ball got Wigan an overlap down the left. Thomas Leuluai, O'Loughlin and Josh Charnley combined with the final pass going back inside for Ryan Hoffman to score on his debut. Paul Deacon converted to make it 6-0.

The game began to get bogged down in midfield but on 18 minutes Wigan almost scored again after James Graham had knocked on. They hit the left wing again, Josh Charnley went close but was just about held up by Michael Shenton and Paul Wellens. Later in the tackle count, a bomb to the right was well taken by Francis Meli but he fumbled the ball backwards into the in goal and Saints had to scramble the ball out of play for a drop out, which Wigan wasted.

On 21 minutes Saints hit Wigan with more try line pressure after a "back to one" was rightly awarded but our defence held firm yet again. Minutes later another Saints attack saw a poor last tackle kick from Kyle Eastmond.

Yet more Saints pressure came on 26 minutes after Meli had intercepted in the Wigan half. This got them inside our 20 metre zone and Roby went close to scoring under the posts. Referee Richard Silverwood asked the video ref to look for a try but Ian Smith gave no try. Sam Tomkins brilliantly stopped Roby from grounding with his foot underneath the football.

It turned into a double whammy for Saints because Wigan went up the other end and scored a couple minutes later. On the last Sam Tomkins put up a huge bomb up, the defensively useless Meli and Paul Wellens both left the ball to each other, it bounced and Harrison Hansen poached to score near the sticks.

Now for whatever reason Hansen soiled himself scoring that with a bit of diarrhoea I assume. He is shown afterwards Live on Sky wiping his arse and handing a soiled rag to the trainer. A certain Kris Radlinski did that once against Bradford. It's a great story in his book! Anyway, Paul Deacon had gone off moments before that try so Sam Tomkins took the conversion to make it 12-0.

On Wigan's next attack another bomb, this time to the right from Sam Tomkins, was shockingly flapped by Gardner and it luckily bounced dead with both Charnley and Carmont about to pounce on the loose ball for the try.

Seconds later a Saints kick up the other end created a Wigan error. Sam Tomkins was out leaped by Gary Wheeler and the loose ball saw Michael Shenton claim the try. But Ian Smith again ruled no try with a knock on from Wheeler at the leap.

The clock was ticking to half time but an error from Darrell Goulding almost gifted Roby a try. Luckily for Goulding Wigan scrambled desperately to hold him up. Saints still had a full set to hit at our line and despite poor last tackle kicks they got a "back to one" to throw at us as well. But Wigan saw out 9 tackles on the line with a James Graham error relieving the pressure. Eventually the half time hooter game. Pretty even contest but Wigan were just more clinical in attack.

First attack of the second half went to St Helens after 6 minutes but Wheeler put in a poor kick on the last tackle. A minute later, Wigan showed Saints how to kick. Sam Tomkins penned Meli in the left corner and his pass to Wellens was not advisable. Wellens was given trapped in goal, from which Wigan claimed their third try.

Swinging the ball left - Mike McIlorum, Leuluai, O'Loughlin and Liam Farrell all combined before George Carmont went over in the corner. Super passing, great angled running, excellent try! Sam Tomkins couldn't convert so the lead was 16-0 with 30 minutes to go.

For the next 10 minutes, Wigan's strong defence continued to keep St Helens at bay. Have to say though, 53rd minute Jon Wilkin grassing up Jeff Lima for an apparent "chicken wing" tackle. Wilkin complained to referee Richard Silverwood and he put it on report. Now Lima may well be guilty, we shall see, but I think it's poor that a player goes to the referee and asks for an incident to be looked at. Let the RFL review it themselves, they go through every second of every game with a fine toothcomb anyway. What Wilkin did was football stuff in my view. What next, rolling around on the floor feigning injury like the overpaid tarts in the Premier League? I don't like it.

Seconds later from that incident, Wigan went close to a fourth try. Sam Tomkins broke down the left from half way, gave it to Josh Charnley who returned to ball back to Sam but he was stopped just short of the line. Unfortunately Sam lost the ball in the tackle which let Saints off the hook.

As the game wore on to the hour mark I felt Wigan were in total control of the contest. My thoughts were solely on Wigan nilling Saints. That would have been a huge statement of intent for the season ahead and to be honest it was looking likely. Whilst Saints had their chances, they were not ripping Wigan up either from deep or close to the line.

In the last quarter of the match though, Wigan's discipline was poor and once Saints claimed their first try, they just got a roll on that was hard to stop. Our Achilles heel last year was not killing off games we had won, and we did it again here. It was during this period that we really missed the experience of Deacon.

Their first try came on 63 minutes. A Wigan knock on gave Saints a scrum ten metres out, from which a half break from Roby saw him offload brilliantly to get Wikin over the line. Jamie Foster converted to make it 16-6.

After that try Wigan started being ridiculous in conceding silly penalties. Four pens in a row allowed Saints to claim another try. Pretty soft or tired defence allowed Tony Puletua to score from close range. He reached over and the conversion from Foster meant it was 16-12 with 11 minutes to go.

Saints now had the sniff of victory and on 72 minutes they were right on the Wigan line but Eastmond, who generally had a poor game, threw a terrible pass straight into Wigan hands.

Two minutes later Wigan were attacking the Saints line. If we couldn't score all they needed to do was get a repeat set but Thomas Leuluai put in a really poor kick that stuck no pressure at all on Saints. Seconds later Jonny Lomax broke clear with the support of Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook. All of a sudden Saints were in the Wigan twenty metre zone and they scored! Last tackle Eastmond, Wikin and Lomax combined to send Meli over the left corner.

Soft try really from Wigan, similar to the late consolation Meli got in the Grand Final last season. Difference was, it was no consolation this time, this was a leveller that gave Foster a chance to convert Saints into an unlikely lead. It was right on the touchline but the kick was pulled wide.

So 16-16 with three minutes to go and in that time both sides had a drop goal attempt to win the game. First Sam Tomkins for Wigan got a shot from 40 metres which was inches wide, then Eastmond right on the hooter almost nicked the win for Saints. Oh boy that would have been cruel but thankfully it missed and the spoils ended up shared.

So whilst the last 15 minutes was disappointing, I'm happy with the overall performance. If Saints are to be our biggest rivals this season then I'm happy we have the edge. On the evidence seen in Cardiff we have far more options out wide, whilst Saints look too heavily reliant on the forward pack. Their wing offerings were pretty poor on this occasion, they didn't really cut us up once during the match.

For us, well we have lessons to learn from this game but best to learn them from drawing the game, than losing it in defeat, which could easily have happened. I've no doubt Michael Maguire and Shaun Wane would have been filthy about letting that slip late in the game but Wigan will learn from it - they proved that last year!

Reaction to the Action

Michael Maguire: "It's credit to St Helens to be able to come back into the game. When you've got the ball, you've got to hang on to it. In the second half St Helens did that. Unfortunately, we let ourselves down in a number of areas in our defence which we are normally very sharp at. In the first half we were outstanding with our scrambled defence close to our line. It was a great effort from our boys. It's good to get away with one point. There are things we can definitely work on. We will get a lot out of that game."

St Helens coach Royce Simmons: "(With my father passing away) It's been the worst week of my life. When you lose your best mate, it's tough. I missed two training sessions but my staff were fantastic and the players responded. I'm happy to get the one point at the end of it, having been so far behind. We weren't playing the smartest football in the world by any means but it was a courageous effort. I knew they wouldn't give in and I knew they are very fit. Some of the forwards played tremendous. I thought (James Roby) was just fantastic and Scotty Moore played well too. We crossed the line a few times in the first half and we might have got some confidence if we had scored. We got a bit nervous and we didn't attack like we know we can attack but we hung in there."

Team Sheets

- St Helens Position Wigan -
1 Paul Wellens Full Back Sam Tomkins 1
2 Ade Gardner Winger Darrell Goulding 2
3 Michael Shenton Centre Martin Gleeson 3
20 Jonny Lomax Centre George Carmont 4
5 Francis Meli Winger Josh Charnley 25
17 Gary Wheeler Stand Off Paul Deacon 6
7 Kyle Eastmond Scrum Half Thomas Leuluai 7
10 James Graham Prop Jeff Lima 15
9 James Roby Hooker Mike McIlorum 9
15 Louis McCarthy-
Prop Andy Coley 10
4 Iosia Soliola 2nd Row Ryan Hoffman 16
12 Jon Wilkin 2nd Row Joel Tomkins 12
14 Scott Moore L.Forward Sean O'Loughlin 13
11 Tony Puletua Substitute Harrison Hansen 11
16 Paul Clough Substitute Paul Prescott 14
19 Andrew Dixon Substitute Lee Mossop 21
22 Jamie Foster Substitute Liam Farrell 22
- Royce Simmons Coach Michael Maguire -

Score Sheet

St Helens 16 --- Wigan Warriors 16
Tries (3):
Jon Wikin
Tony Puletua
Francis Meli
--- Tries (3):
Ryan Hoffman
Harrison Hansen
George Carmont
Jamie Foster 2/3
--- Goals:
Paul Deacon 1/1
Sam Tomkins 1/2

Scoring and Incident Pattern

09mins:36 St Helens 00 Wigan 04 Try: Ryan Hoffman
- St Helens 00 Wigan 06 Conversion: Paul Deacon (1/1)
28mins:27 St Helens 00 Wigan 10 Try: Harrison Hansen
- St Helens 00 Wigan 12 Conversion: Sam Tomkins (1/1)
Half Time St Helens 00 Wigan Warriors 12
49mins:06 St Helens 00 Wigan 16 Try: George Carmont
- St Helens 00 Wigan 16 S.Tomkins Missed Conversion (1/2)
62mins:24 St Helens 04 Wigan 16 Try: Jon Wikin
- St Helens 06 Wigan 16 Conversion: Jamie Foster (1/1)
68mins:46 St Helens 10 Wigan 16 Try: Tony Puletua
- St Helens 12 Wigan 16 Conversion: Jamie Foster (2/2)
75mins:15 St Helens 16 Wigan 16 Try: Francis Meli
- St Helens 16 Wigan 16 J.Foster Missed Conversion (2/3)
Full Time St Helens 16 Wigan Warriors 16

Video Highlights

Top 5 Wigan Players as voted on our Message Board

Man of the Match: Ryan Hoffman
2nd: George Carmont 3rd: Sean O'Loughlin 4th: Harrison Hansen 5th: Mike McIlorum


Richard Silverwood

Penalties Conceded

St Helens 3 Wigan 10

Video Referee

Ian Smith

Match Milestones

Jeff Lima made his Wigan Debut.
Ryan Hoffman made his Wigan Debut.
Josh Charnley made his first starting appearance for Wigan.
Ryan Hoffman scored his first Wigan try.

Match Attendance

30,891 (Total Attendance for Day 1 of the Magic Weekend)

Match Highlights

Video: Click Here Wish FM Commentary: Click Here



Dry - Match played Indoors.

League Table at Conclusion of Super League 16 Round 1

- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 Castleford Tigers 1 1 0 0 40 20 +20 2
2 Hull Kingston Rovers 1 1 0 0 34 22 +12 2
3 Huddersfield Giants 1 1 0 0 28 18 +10 2
4 Harlequins 1 1 0 0 11 4 +7 2
5 Leeds Rhinos 1 1 0 0 32 28 +4 2
6 St Helens 1 0 1 0 16 16 - 1
7 Wigan Warriors 1 0 1 0 16 16 - 1
8 Bradford Bulls 1 0 0 1 28 32 -4 0
9 Catalans Dragons 1 0 0 1 4 11 -7 0
10 Warrington Wolves 1 0 0 1 18 28 -10 0
11 Hull FC 1 0 0 1 22 34 -12 0
12 Salford City Reds 1 0 0 1 12 42 -30 0
13 Crusaders* 1 1 0 0 42 12 +30 -2
14 Wakefield Wildcats* 1 0 0 1 20 40 -20 -4

*Crusaders and Wakefield both deducted 4 points for entering administration.

Round 1 Results - Magic Weekend (Cardiff)
Sat 12 Feb Huddersfield Giants 28 Warrington Wolves 18 30,891
Sat 12 Feb Catalans Dragons 4 Harlequins 11
Sat 12 Feb Castleford Tigers 40 Wakefield Wildcats 20
Sat 12 Feb St Helens 16 Wigan Warriors 16
Sun 13 Feb Crusaders 42 Salford City Reds 12 29,323
Sun 13 Feb Bradford Bulls 28 Leeds Rhinos 32
Sun 13 Feb Hull FC 22 Hull Kingston Rovers 34

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