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Friday 30th October 2020 St Helens 6 Wigan Warriors 18 Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens Betfred Super League 22 - Round 19 of 20
Kick Off 8:20pm
(Kick Off Delayed from 7:45pm due to Kick Off Delay in Earlier Match)
- Wigan - St Helens 6 Bevan French T 1 Lachlan Coote T G 23 Jake Bibby T 2 Tommy Makinson 1 Zak Hardaker G 3 Kevin Naiqama 4 Oliver Gildart 22 Jack Welsby 5 Joe Burgess 5 Regan Grace 7 Thomas Leuluai T 6 Jonny Lomax 31 Jackson Hastings T 7
9 Sam Powell 9 James Roby 38
11 Willie Isa 11 Zeb Taia 12 Liam Farrell 20 James Bentley 17
Interchange: 8 Tony Clubb 12 Dominque Peyroux 14 Ben Flower 13 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook 15 Joe Greenwood 16 Kyle Amor 16 Morgan Smithies 18 Joseph Paulo
The great Andy Gregory said after this battle that he "(couldn't) remember a better 80 minutes of Rugby League in the last 20 odd years". This fantastic battle was with very limited attack but two packs going ding dong, back and forth with Wigan eventually being the side to wear down the other.
It was an important one for Wigan who hadn't just lost all five derbies under coach Adrian Lam but hadn't competed in any of them either. After the cup surrender at this ground against Leeds it was quite obvious that the pack had struggled but in comparision to the side that day - Brad Singleton, Tony Clubb and Ben Flower bring much needed experience to the line up with the tenacious Morgan Smithies on top.
It's a shame Harry Smith has been the fall guy the last fortnight but Lam clearly had to go with a big bench in this game and he needed the Salford match to add some much needed fitness to some of those players.
The first half hour was a huge arm wrestle with practically zero attacking chances but I would say that St Helens slightly won the territory war with their last tackle options often having to be defended near the try line by Wigan in comparision to us only hitting 20/30 metre line in return.
The opening score to St Helens came from nothing. Jonny Lomax, who'd been struggling with his knee moments before, brought through missed tackles by Thomas Leuluai and Bevan French to send Lachlan Coote under the sticks, easy conversion for 6-0.
It was big for Wigan that they responded quickly. Within four minutes in fact. Joe Greenwood, literally with his first touch of the bench, made the half break and it got wide to Zak Hardaker who's kick to the right corner bounced kindly for Jake Bibby to beat Lomax to the ball and score wide. Conversion missed but I felt 6-4 was perhaps a right reflection on that first half.
Second half was even better by Wigan. They controlled it without necessarily dominating but St Helens attacking chances were pretty limited. Biggest key was that any errors were big errors.
Wigan took the lead on 54 minutes with Leuluai putting in a powering run near the try line to claim his first try of the season and his first derby try since 2012. Poor conversion miss by Hardaker for just 8-6.
A classy try from Bevan French increased that lead on 63 minutes with his attack leaving two Saints defenders tackling fresh air but Hardaker missed another fairly easy kick which left the match still in the balance at 12-6. You felt a two score lead was enough, so that was a bad miss.
Not to worry. Wigan sealed it again with 10 minutes to go when Greenwood's offload allowed Jackson Hastings to finish on the left and I said on commentary that "Hardaker will kick this now, one of his most difficult of the evening"....and he did for 18-6.
Wigan got a bit niggly late on and I think this was deliberate to let St Helens know they are up for the fight if and when they meet again. This climaxed with a poor high tackle by Greenwood only being punished by a sin bin.
Saints will return better with the suspended Alex Walmsley back next time but nethertheless it was an important and needed marker laid by Wigan that not only earned the win but also put them top of the table on the points percentage with Saints having lost twice in a row.
29:41 St Helens 04 Wigan 00
Try: Lachlan Coote
St Helens 06 Wigan 00
Conversion: Lachlan Coote (1/1)
33:26 St Helens 06 Wigan 04
Try: Jake Bibby
St Helens 06 Wigan 04
Missed Conv: Zak Hardaker (0/1)
Half` Time St Helens 6 Wigan Warriors 4 53:21 St Helens 06 Wigan 08
Try: Thomas Leuluai
St Helens 06 Wigan 08
Missed Conv: Zak Hardaker (0/2)
62:18 St Helens 06 Wigan 12
Try: Bevan French
St Helens 06 Wigan 12
Missed Conv: Zak Hardaker (0/3)
69:21 St Helens 06 Wigan 16
Try: Jackson Hastings
St Helens 06 Wigan 18
Conversion: Zak Hardaker (1/4)
78:14 Wigan Sin Bin
Joe Greenwood (High Tackle)
Full Time St Helens 6 Wigan Warriors 18 Referee:
0 (Non Fans in Attendance due to Covid-19 Regulations)
This match was originally meant to be Round 23 of 29 in original fixture list and played on Friday 31st July 2020.
Betfred Super League 25 - Round 18 Results
|Sun 25 Oct||Wakefield Trinity 48 Hull Kingston Rovers 18||0|
|Mon 26 Oct||Salford 12 St Helens 10 (at Leeds)||0|
|Mon 26 Oct||Leeds Rhinos 28 Castleford Tigers 24||0|
|Postponed||Catalan Dragons v Warrington Wolves||0|
Betfred Super League 25 - Round 19 Results
|Thu 29 Oct||Leeds 6 Wakefield 30 (at St Helens)||0|
|Thu 29 Oct||Hull KR 16 Hull FC 31 (at St Helens)||0|
|Fri 30 Oct||Warrington 24 Salford 0 (Forfeit - Walkover)||0|
|Fri 30 Oct||Warrington 19 Huddersfield 12 (at St Helens)||0|
|Fri 30 Oct||St Helens 6 Wigan Warriors 18||0|
2020 Betfred Super League 25 Table - After This Round
|-||Team||P||W||D||L||F||A||Diff||Diff %||Pts||Pts %|
|9||Salford Red Devils||16||6||0||10||284||425||-141||(66.82)||12||37.50|
|11||Hull Kingston Rovers||17||3||0||14||290||526||-236||(55.13)||6||17.65|
Top 4 Qualify for Play Offs /