Wigan coach Adrian Lam dubbed it the most intense game of his coaching career after savouring a first derby win with an 18-6 triumph over St Helens.
They took the lead with Lachlan Coote’s 30th-minute try but Wigan hit back through Jake Bibby just before half-time and bossed the second half, adding further tries through Tommy Leuluai, Bevan French and Jackson Hastings.
The victory margin would have been more emphatic but for an off night with the boot by Zak Hardaker, who converted just one of the four tries.
Lam said: “I’m really proud. It was one of the best games of rugby league I’ve watched for long time, both in Australia and here.
“There were no errors, no breaks and no penalties and they went set for set. Both teams played a great game.
“It was in the balance for a long period of time. It was the most intense game I’ve ever been involved with.
“I’m a little bit exhausted and emotional. We said we were going to draw a line in the sand after the last couple of years and had a good crack.
“We challenged them to play their best game of the season and it was the best performance in my time here, without a doubt.
“It was a Wigan performance. We needed to play well and I thought it was due.”
Saints coach Kristian Woolf admitted his side sorely missed Walmsley but insists they will come back strong from the defeat.
“I thought we made too many errors in the second half and put ourselves under pressure,” he said. “We spent most of the second half coming off our tryline.
“It was the type of game we were looking forward to, we haven’t had that for five or six weeks and we will certainly learn from it and be better next time.
“It was the most intense and most physical game we’ve played for very long time.
“We didn’t play well but we weren’t too far off. We’ll clean up a couple of things. We’re not putting it all on big Al but he does make a difference.”
Saints’ next game is due to be against Catalans Dragons in Perpignan next Thursday but a meeting of Super League clubs on Monday is set to discuss proposals to end the regular season early and focus on the play-offs, a move Woolf would favour.
“We know there’s going to be more disruption with Covid,” he said. “Before it gets out of hand we need to figure out what we’re going to do and, to me, going straight into a finals series makes sense.”
Lam said: “We don’t know what’s around the corner with regard to the draw and the ladder, I guess we’ll see on Monday and deal with it.”
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