Match Report: Wigan 18 St Helens 12
Posted by Bilko on August 07 2011 - 11:29
Wigan extended a season best winning streak to nine matches as they reached a Wembley Cup Final for the first time since 1998.

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Wigan Warriors v St Helens - Carnegie Challenge Cup Semi Final.
Saturday 6th August
2011. Kick Off 4:30pm at Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington.

Match Report

Well two's week ago against Warrington it was attack, attack, attack that got Wigan to victory but in this game it was the defence that was key to victory. It is credit to Wigan's defence that I think Saints played as well as they could but for an hour at least they just couldn't find a way over our try line.

Coach Michael Maguire named the same starting 13 that played against Warrington in the last round but Paul Prescott and Gareth Hock missed out on the bench with Liam Farrell and Ben Cross coming in.

It was clear very early on that this was going to be a tight, tense battle. Saints looked more likely to open the scoring when they had three sets in a row inside our twenty metre area, around the 7 minute mark, but they wasted it with a knock on from Paul "The Slug" Wellens.

On 16 minutes Wigan got a penalty after James Graham was penalised for interfering in the ruck. Bang in front from 30 out, Pat decided to go for goal. This was met by an amusing rendition of the England Rugby Union song "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" by the Saints fans. Pat though missed a sitter by his standards, the kick sailing wide!

Around the 23 minute mark Saints forced another repeat set when a kick from Jon "gods gift to over achievement" Wilkin's kick forced Sam to concede a drop out. Then a fourth tackle obstruction penalty was conceded right under the sticks and Saints this time went for the penalty goal. In fairness the Saints fans gave the "swing low" chant to their own team. Jamie Foster slotted it for a 2-0 Saints lead.

Soon after that Saints forced another repeat set when a kick from Jonny Lomax had to be dealt with by Pat. Wigan's defence was strong but they were again forced into a drop out with Charnley batting away another kick from Wilkin. But Wigan survived again after James Roby threw a "ladders" pass into the head of Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

So we'd now played half hour and this report probably reads like total Saints domination. It wasn't really like that in reality but the fact Saints had three periods of possession in our twenty, to which they had forced repeat sets, and only ended up with two points was massive in the end context of this game. Especially when Wigan claimed the games first try in the 34th minute.

Josh Charnley has been getting some harsh stick for the defence on his wing but credit the lad that he's not been affected by it. He scored a blinder in the Warrington quarter final and it was his break that set up the opening try.

From his own twenty he took the play the ball and completely mugged Francis Meli who was at marker. Totally flat footed him and burst through the hole down the right wing. Slug Wellens did well to cut him off but the damage was done. The break had dragged most of the defence to the right so Wigan swung the play the ball left. Two long cut out passes from first Joel Tomkins then brother Sam created the overlap for Ryan Hoffman to send George Carmont in. Pat converted to make it 6-2. That lead took us to half time and we Wigan fans were delighted with that. Soaked up all that pressure and still had the lead!

Second half started in the same vain with defences dominating but it looked like Wigan had claimed their second try on 47 minutes when Sam Tomkins went over. Sam threw an outrageous dummy that was bought by Michael Shenton and it was enough to get him over but referee Steve Ganson chalked it off for an apparent obstruction by Hoffman in back play. I still think they might as well ban dummy runners in televised games. The annoying thing is that if Sam had been tackled a bugs dick short of the line they just would have been played on. Silverwood was never going to give that decision off his own back but because it goes over the line they look at it. I really don't like those calls. Dummy Running is part of the game.

A minute later up the other end Saints forced yet another drop out with Sam trapped in goal from a Leon Pryce kick. Yet again though Saints couldn't convert that chance into a try. Superb Wigan defence!

Despite that drop out you could sense Wigan were starting to get on top. James Graham looked like he was suffering badly with injury that had made him doubtful earlier in the week whilst Leon Pryce also looked like his injury ravaged season was catching up with him.

Slowly but surely the second Wigan try came on 56 minutes. It was a reward for great defence again. On the attack Sam had put a kick in which Slug had dealt with but only a metre from his own line. Saints had only made their 30 metre line when the last tackle was called. Decent clearance kick in fairness but Wigan were back on half way after just three tackles. They then swung right. Great passing - Thomas Leuluai, Brett Finch, Paul Deacon, Sam and Joel Tomkins all got a touch but it was lazy hanging back defence from Jamie Foster that allowed Charnley to break. Meli came across to halt Charnley but he full on mugged him inside out before making Slug Wellens look like the biggest fool in the land. BBC commentator Dave Woods said "he hypnotised them, they didn't know where he was" - a perfect description for that try.

That break had come down the right but Josh had been able to round off under the sticks, so that gave Pat an easy kick for 12-2. Saints were now rocking on the ropes and just two minutes later Wigan hit them again with what proved to be the knock out blow.

From the restart, Carmont made a half break down the right but his pass inside went to ground. Wigan got possession back though because Shenton had knocked it down. That was on half way and two tackles after the resulting scrum, Sam Tomkins ducked, dived and reached over to score despite three defenders trying to stop him. Classy dummy half play that. Pat converted and at 18-2 with 20 to go this game looked all over.

It should have been done and dusted after Foster hit the restart out on the full. From this possession Joel Tomkins looked a certain scorer out on the left but he for some reason passed inside to a stunned Carmont who knocked on. Georgie was stunned because Joel should, and would, have scored himself. I was stood bang in line with that effort and knew straight away that he'd dropped a big bollock! It was a massive brain fart and that lifted Saints. 22 or 24-2 would have been game over but that error lifted Saints into a fightback.

In the next few minutes Saints scored two back to back tries with Foster claiming both down our right side defence. He then converted the first but I was always confident when he missed the second. 18-12 was now full on sweat time but at least we still had the cushion of being level if they scored again.

Ten minutes actually remained on the clock but being located in the stand that the big screen is located in, and not being able to see it, meant I had no idea how long was left. Whilst I bet time dragged for most Wigan fans it didn't seem that long to me. I was actually glad I couldn't see the clock and I probably didn't feel that much pressure because Saints didn't really get a chance to level the scores. Pryce had now departed and Graham was done in. He shouldn't have been on the field.

Wigan had seen out eight minutes without too much danger and now inside the final two minutes Saints conceded penalty that gave Pat a shot at goal to win it. It was out on the touchline twenty metres out. He missed though but having drilled a full minute off the clock, Wigan just had to stick it up the jumper once they re-gathered a short twenty metre drop out from Saints.

The clocked ticked to dead with Wigan still in possession and the Cherry and White faithful rejoiced. I'm sure Joel Tomkins was most relieved. I really don't think he'd have been forgiven by Wigan fans had his brain fart cost us that game. Very harsh probably but that's how much it means to us after those recent Semi Final heartaches. Ah well it didn't matter in the end!

Fantastic scenes at full time. The Wigan fans sang and sang and sang for a good 25 minutes after full time. Even the great Henderson Gill came across from the other side of the field to take pictures of us fans. Chairman Lenegan and top man "Winston" (that's Winston Higham, a member of the board) came over to show their appreciation. It was a great day and a great win. Now let's get the job finished at Wembley - bring it on!

Reaction to the Action

Michael Maguire: "I'm very proud of the players. At half-time, I commended them for their hard work. They just fought for each other to make sure they didn't get across the line."

Sean O'Loughlin: "It's a good feeling. We've definitely done it the tough way and earned it."

St Helens coach Royce Simmons: "(My team were) very courageous. I knew they would be, that's the character of the blokes. We went into the game with a few blokes carrying bumps and bruises and a couple of senior players carried severe injuries into the game. It wasn't until the captain's run that we sort of put a side together. We had a fair bit of possession and it would have been good to get across the line at least once in the first half but Wigan's defence didn't allow that to happen and we got a bit excited and tended to go side to side when we needed to be a bit more direct. I thought we were easily the best side up them scoring and yet went in down at half-time and in the second half we didn't have much ball."

Team Sheets

- Wigan Position St Helens 1
1 Sam Tomkins Full Back Paul Wellens 1
25 Josh Charnley Winger Tom Makinson 28
12 Joel Tomkins Centre Michael Shenton 3
4 George Carmont Centre Francis Meli 5
5 Pat Richards Winger Jamie Foster 22
17 Brett Finch Stand Off Leon Pryce 6
6 Paul Deacon Scrum Half Jonny Lomax 20
15 Jeff Lima Prop James Graham 10
7 Thomas Leuluai Hooker James Roby 9
10 Andy Coley Prop Tony Puletua 11
11 Harrison Hansen 2nd Row Chris Flannery 13
16 Ryan Hoffman 2nd Row Iosia Soliola 4
13 Sean O'Loughlin L.Forward Jon Wilkin 12
9 Mike McIlorum Substitute Scott Moore 14
21 Lee Mossop Substitute Louis
22 Liam Farrell Substitute Paul Clough 16
35 Ben Cross Substitute Lee Gaskell 25
- Michael Maguire Coach Royce Simmons -

Score Sheet

Wigan Warriors 18 --- St Helens 12
Tries (3):
George Carmont
Josh Charnley
Sam Tomkins
--- Tries (2):
Jamie Foster 2
Pat Richards 3/4
--- Goals:
Jamie Foster 2/3

Scoring and Incident Pattern

15mins:48 Wigan 00 St Helens 00 P.Richards Missed Penalty Goal (0/1)
25mins:08 Wigan 00 St Helens 02 Penalty Goal: Jamie Foster (1/1)
33mins:24 Wigan 04 St Helens 02 Try: George Carmont
- Wigan 06 St Helens 02

Conversion: Pat Richards (1/2)

Half Time Wigan Warriors 06 St Helens 02
55mins:20 Wigan 10 St Helens 02 Try: Josh Charnley
- Wigan 12 St Helens 02

Conversion: Pat Richards (2/3)

58mins:58 Wigan 16 St Helens 02 Try: Sam Tomkins
- Wigan 18 St Helens 02

Conversion: Pat Richards (3/4)

64mins:24 Wigan 18 St Helens 06 Try: Jamie Foster
- Wigan 18 St Helens 08 Conversion: Jamie Foster (2/2)
69mins:22 Wigan 18 St Helens 12 Try: Jamie Foster (2)
- Wigan 18 St Helens 12 J.Foster Missed Conversion (2/3)
79mins:05 Wigan 18 St Helens 12 P.Richards Missed Penalty Goal (3/5)
Full Time Wigan Warriors 18 St Helens 12

Video Highlights

Top 5 Wigan Players as voted on our Message Board

Man of the Match: Sam Tomkins
2nd: Josh Charnley 3rd: Sean O'Loughlin 4th: Lee Mossop 5th: Brett Finch


Richard Silverwood

Penalties Conceded

Wigan 10 St Helens 10

Match Attendance