St Helens completed a season treble over rivals Wigan with a 32-10 victory at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Justin Holbrook made just one change to his St Helens side that beat Hull FC last week. Aaron Smith replaced the injured Joseph Paulo.
Wigan coach Adrian Lam made two changes to his side that thrashed Hull KR last time out. Liam Byrne and Jake Shorrocks came in for Tony Clubb and Jarrod Sammut.
Zak Hardaker and Lachlan Coote exchanged penalty goals in the opening stages before Tommy Makinson put Saints into the lead.
Hardaker reduced the deficit by adding another penalty goal but Makinson went over again to give the Saints a 12-4 advantage at the break.
Coote, Kevin Naiqama and Jonny Lomax went over for St Helens in the third quarter, ultimately putting the game to bed.
Hardaker – Wigan’s best player on the night – pulled a consolation back for the Warriors on the hour but Saints sealed a solid 32-10 win over their neighbours.
Three talking points
St Helens strong all over the park
It has been said time and time again this year but Saints don’t have one weakness in their side – they are probably the only team in the competition to have outstanding players 1-17.
Holbrook must be very happy with how his back five are performing this term. Coote has been the competition’s best full-back, while Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace are pushing for spots in the Great Britain team. Let’s not forget to mention Fiji captain Naiqama and England international Mark Percival in the centres!
The Red V’s pack is a sight to behold as well. Are Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson the best front-row pairing of the Super League era? There have been some greats over the years and it is certainly a debate to be had.
Wigan will be in the top five
It might not have been the result that Wigan was hoping for but they have improved dramatically from how they were in the first half of the season.
Lam has recently been made the club’s permanent head coach and deservedly so after winning five games on the spin and he certainly seems to have the players on his side.
There are still a lot of improvements to be made from Wigan though, starting with their discipline. They gave away a couple of unnecessary penalties in the game which gifted Saints penalty goals and field position.
But with their performances over the last two months, it’s safe to say Wigan will be in the top five come the end of the season.
Game still should have been on TV
The derby between St Helens and Wigan never fails to disappoint with the quality of talent on show as well as the atmosphere in either the Totally Wicked Stadium or the DW Stadium.
It was a sell out crowd at Saints, which is rare for any Super League game during the regular campaign. We often see a lot of empty seats at all games on Sky Sports, but this game would have looked brilliant to the neutral.
I did an opinion piece on why it was a daft call from Sky Sports to not show the derby, so I’ll try not to go on and on. It just amazes me how the biggest game with the biggest teams in the competition isn’t shown. It’s like the Manchester derby in football not being televised!
Line-ups and ratings
St Helens: Coote (9); Makinson (8), Naiqama (8), Percival (8), Grace (7); Lomax (9), Fages (8); Walmsley (8), Bentley (8), Thompson (8), Knowles (7), Peyroux (7), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (7). Subs: Amor (8), Lees (7), Ashworth (7), Smith (6).
Tries: Makinson (2), Coote, Naiqama, Lomax Goals: Coote 6/7
Wigan: Hardaker (8); Marshall (7), Sarginson (6), Gildart (6), Burgess (5); Williams (7), Leuluai (6); Navarrete (7), Powell (7), Partington (8), Isa (5), Farrell (6), Smithies (7). Subs: Bullock (7), Byrne (6), Hankinson (6), Shorrocks (5).
Tries: Hardaker Goals: Hardaker 3/3
It is going to take a very special performance from a very special side if they are going to stop St Helens from winning the treble this year.
They have plenty of strength in depth and they play so well without their talismanic captain, James Roby. Imagine how good they could be with him back in the side…
As for Wigan, they were just beaten by the better side on the night. They have made huge progress under Lam’s leadership over the last couple of months and I’m confident they will be in the top five at the end of the year.
Elsewhere in Super League
Warrington Wolves 12-22 Salford Red Devils
Wakefield Trinity 16-30 Castleford Tigers
Huddersfield Giants 28-32 Catalans Dragons
Leeds Rhinos 16-32 Hull KR