Match Report: Wigan 28 St Helens 24
Posted by Bilko on April 23 2011 - 08:23
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Good Friday 22nd April 2011
Wigan Warriors 28 St Helens 24
DW Stadium, Wigan
Engage Super League 16 - Round 11 of 27

Kick Off 2:45pm


- Wigan       - St Helens    
1 Sam Tomkins       1 Paul Wellens    
22 Josh Charnley  T2      2 Ade Gardner    
12 Joel Tomkins       3 Michael Shenton  T   
4 George Carmont       5 Francis Meli    
5 Pat Richards  T2   G4    22 Jamie Foster  T2   G4 
6 Paul Deacon       17 Gary Wheeler    
7 Thomas Leuluai       20 Jonny Lomax    
10 Andy Coley       10 James Graham    
9 Mike McIlorum       9 James Roby    
15 Jeff Lima       15 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook    
11 Harrison Hansen       4 Iosia Soliola    
16 Ryan Hoffman       12 Jon Wilkin    
13 Sean O'Loughlin       11 Tony Puletua    
14 Paul Prescott       14 Scott Moore    
17 Brett Finch       18 Matty Ashurst    
21 Lee Mossop       21 Shaun Magennis    
22 Liam Farrell  T      28 Tommy Makinson  T   


First of all, I think you have to credit Saints for the way they played yesterday. They had an inexperienced half back combination which together a weak subs bench was always going to make it tough for them, especially having lost two players injured during the contest. In the end I think that told of them. But to make a legend you have to get the win in that adversity, just like we did on that famous Good Friday in 2003.

Now then I mentioned in my Match Preview that James Graham would struggle to do 80 minutes in hot weather and that proved to be the case. He is a class act no doubt about it and the bottom line was that Saints lost the game when he was off the field.

I also mentioned the that Saints are misers at being penalised and the fact we received just 1 penalty all game was testament to that. In fact in two games now this season they combined penalty count is 15-4 to St Helens and yet they haven't managed to win either game. Granted they came mightily close twice but I'd suggest that if it was the other way round we would have put two, probably comfortable, wins on the board?  Either way, to get a win and a draw with hardly any penalties to help us, and against this apparently huge and lethal pack that Saints fans keep telling me they have, I think reflects well on us.

Early on in the contest, the pace of the game was unbelievable. Their wasn't really much being given right up the middle very early on in the game until Graham's total annihilation of Jeff Lima in the 7th minute. It was a big early marker that I feel mentally more than anything fired Saints towards their 10-0 lead.

It certainly played a big part in their first try because from that big hit Saints got to pressure the Wigan line for the first time. They got a cheap knock on decision against Josh Charnley, then forced a drop out and although Wigan survived three minutes of pressure, it eventually told a couple of minutes later.

From a tap 20 they plugged and plugged then found the half break. Sia Soliola made it and hit Gary Wheeler with a superb offload. Pat Richards missed the tackle and a full break was on. Wheeler did very well to ensure he drew in Sam Tomkins before offloading to send Michael Shenton clear over for the try. Jamie Foster couldn't convert - 4-0 Saints after 13 minutes.

Saints' at this point always looked more likely to score than Wigan and the second try came on 26 minutes. James Roby made the half break this time and his wild offload fortunate bounced for Jonny Lomax to hit at pace. That bit of luck meant Wigan's defence was all at sea and they swung the ball left to send Foster over for the try. He then hit a sweet touchline conversion to make it 10-0.

Now whilst I do think Graham leaving the field around this point in the contest played it's part in the end result, it was also the fact that Wigan brought on Brett Finch. That meant Leuluai was switched to hooker and Mike McIlorum left the field.

Now many are pointing the finger at McIlorum and I'm not necessarily against the argument that we looked better when he was off the field but I suggest it could have been because we got Leuluai away from the half back role. He was putting in some garbage kicks which were putting no pressure what so ever on Saints and I think our kicking game improved all round after Leuluai shifted. Not saying Finch made an impact, he's really still struggling to find rhythm isn't he, but I will continue to argue that Tommy is a hooker and not a half back and should stick there!

I also take the argument made to me on twitter that Sam Tomkins is wasted at full back. I agree totally and long term I think he should be in the halves, but like I said I'm less concerned about that with Paul Deacon in the team because I seriously don't think we have a viable alternative full back at the moment. I think Sam should have gone to stand off when we were really struggling last month but I think we should see how it goes in the next few weeks. The fixture list hopefully opens up for us now with easier games on paper.

Anyway inside ten minutes before half time and I think if Saints had got the next try  we would have suffered a long drawn out defeat like against Warrington but thankfully it was Wigan that claimed it. Sam Tomkins did all the ground work by running from left to right with no Saints player touching him. His long pass found brother Joel and although he threw a forward pass it wasn't spotted and you take your luck with Josh Charnley crashing over in the right corner just 3 minutes before half time. Although it was unconverted by Pat, 10-4 down at the break probably flattered Wigan slightly.

I have to say in the past I think Michael Maguire's half time team talks when the team has been losing really haven't made any impact what so ever, but in this game the half time certainly worked because Wigan came out on fire.

Their was an early crucial period though after Saints kicked a 40/20 in the first minute of the half. A try would have been a killer blow but Wigan just about survived.

Five minutes into the half Wigan levelled the scores and it was a build up of pressure which was created by two excellent kicks that had Saints well pinned back. An error eventually came, with Sean Magennis knocking on in his own half, and Wigan punished. Pretty similar to the Foster try earlier. Same corner of the pitch, quick hands left and Pat Richards just plonked it down. Then he hit a sweet conversion of his own score to make it 10-10.

Then four minutes later Wigan took the lead for the first time. Again it was a good last tackle kick and chase that pinned Saints way back in their own half and when Wigan got the ball back, Ryan Hoffman made a break through the missed tackles of Ade Gardner and Michael Shenton. It got him away down the left wing but support was lacking so he had to take the tackle. Saints defence never reset and swinging right Joel Tomkins' beautiful offload sent Charnley over for his second. I'm liking the signs of Joel playing at centre. He's no Martin Gleeson yet but he's doing some good stuff out there for me. Another touchline conversion from Pat made it 16-10 after 51 minutes.

Four minutes later again and the third try of the half came. James Graham was thrown back on but he couldn't stop a break down the left from George Carmont. Great pass again to find Pat and although he juggled it, the ball stuck and he put it down. A third superb touchline conversion made it 22-10.

Famous words from me as I remember saying "they won't come back from this". In fairness it didn't look like they could. Wigan were well on top and Saints looked totally dead from their efforts. They needed luck to launch their fightback and it came on 63 minutes. Joel Tomkins offload hit Paul Deacon in the face and referee Richard Silverwood blows a knock on. Terrible call that could have cost us the game but it was a stupid offload from Joel anyway. Not needed when we had the game in our control.

Soon after the scrum, great hands saw Jamie Foster score a great try in the left corner, then hit a sweet conversion to make it 22-16. 14 minutes left it was game on again and soon after Tom Makinson scored close to the posts to level the game up at 22-22. In four minutes Wigan had gone from full control to oh bloody hell here we go again.

The game kind of stopped dead for the next few minutes. I recall a woeful drop goal attempt from Finch. But on 73 minutes Saints got a massive penalty when George Carmont was ruled offside. It was close to the line and Foster wasted no time in going for two. He kicked it and with 6 minutes left they led 24-22.

All over the terraces I reckon most Wigan fans like me were cursing them for letting us down yet at home yet again but what was very admirable on the pitch at this point was the lack of panic. The remaining time was all Wigan after George Carmont's break down the left set up the territory. He found Pat but although his kick came to nothing a brilliant tackle from Carmont bundled Shenton into touch and gave Wigan a big scrum ten metres out. They didn't score from it and Saints did get the ball back but they were well pinned back again and that put massive pressure on them that they have shown already they can't handle.

It was inside two minutes now and Wigan managed to force a drop out with Gardner tackled in goal. Still the lack of panic was superb and that was rewarded with 56 seconds to go. Paul Deacon, the most experienced man of the field, sent Liam Farrell, the Ginger Pearl, over for the match winning score. Oh that was a sweet moment, getting them back for Tommy Martyn doing that to us back in 2000! The conversion didn't matter but Pat kicked it anyway to seal a sweet, sweet 28-24 win. Happy Days!

12mins:52 Wigan 00 St Helens 04 Try: Michael Shenton
- Wigan 00 St Helens 04 J.Foster Missed Conversion (0/1)
25mins:40 Wigan 00 St Helens 08 Try: Jamie Foster
- Wigan 00 St Helens 10 Conversion: Jamie Foster (1/2)
36mins:25 Wigan 04 St Helens 10 Try: Josh Charnley
- Wigan 04 St Helens 10 P.Richards Missed Conversion (0/1)
Half Time Wigan Warriors 04 St Helens 10
45mins:56 Wigan 08 St Helens 10 Try: Pat Richards
- Wigan 10 St Helens 10 Conversion: Pat Richards (1/2)
49mins:37 Wigan 14 St Helens 10 Try: Josh Charnley (2)
- Wigan 16 St Helens 10 Conversion: Pat Richards (2/3)
55mins:13 Wigan 20 St Helens 10 Try: Pat Richards (2)
- Wigan 22 St Helens 10 Conversion: Pat Richards (3/4)
63mins:21 Wigan 22 St Helens 14 Try: Jamie Foster (2)
- Wigan 22 St Helens 16 Conversion: Jamie Foster (2/3)
67mins:59 Wigan 22 St Helens 20 Try: Tom Makinson
- Wigan 22 St Helens 22 Conversion: Jamie Foster (3/4)
73mins:20 Wigan 22 St Helens 24 Penalty Goal: Jamie Foster (4/5)
79mins:06 Wigan 26 St Helens 24 Try: Liam Farrell
- Wigan 28 St Helens 24 Conversion: Pat Richards (4/5)
Full Time Wigan Warriors 28 St Helens 24

Richard Silverwood


24,057 (Sold Out)

Super League 16 - Round 11 Results
Thu 21 Apr Bradford Bulls 22 Leeds Rhinos 30 19,275
Fri 22 Apr Hull FC 36 Hull Kingston Rovers 18 19,754
Fri 22 Apr Crusaders 32 Huddersfield Giants 6 3,008
Fri 22 Apr Harlequins 30 Catalan Dragons 37 2,069
Fri 22 Apr Wigan Warriors 28 St Helens 24 24,057
Fri 22 Apr Salford City Reds 0 Warrington Wolves 60 7,496
Fri 22 Apr Castleford Tigers 24 Wakefield Wildcats 28 9,020

Engage Super League 16 Table - After This Round
- Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 Warrington Wolves 11 8 0 3 389 167 +222 16
2 Huddersfield Giants 11 8 0 3 279 166 +113 16
3 St Helens 11 7 1 3 330 206 +124 15
4 Castleford Tigers 10 7 1 2 311 196 +115 15
5 Wigan Warriors 10 6 2 2 238 193 +45 14
6 Catalan Dragons 11 6 0 5 265 255 +10 12
7 Leeds Rhinos 11 5 1 5 290 290 - 11
8 Harlequins 11 4 1 6 250 343 -93 9
9 Hull FC 11 4 0 7 248 258 -10 8
10 Bradford Bulls 11 4 0 7 244 354 -110 8
11 Salford City Reds 11 4 0 7 236 354 -118 8
12 Hull Kingston Rovers 11 3 0 8 250 324 -74 6
13 Wakefield Wildcats* 11 4 0 7 210 324 -114 4
14 Crusaders* 11 3 0 8 236 346 -110 2

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