St Helens’ statement of intent, outstanding O’Neill, yellow and red cards: Good Friday debrief

Drew Darbyshire
Alex Walmsley St Helens Alamy

St Helens claimed the bragging rights as they beat champions Wigan Warriors 12-4 in front of a sold-out Totally Wicked Stadium.

Wigan were in a 4-2 lead after an hour thanks to a brilliant Bevan French try – but a red card to Warriors prop Liam Byrne saw momentum swing in the favour of Saints.

Paul Wellens’ side scored two tries in the last five minutes through Tommy Makinson and Konrad Hurrell to secure a 12-4 victory.

Love Rugby League was in attendance at the Totally Wicked Stadium to watch the derby: here are the biggest talking points coming from the game in the Debrief.

St Helens’ statement of intent

The Saints laid down a marker with their victory, which was Wigan’s first defeat since last July and Wellens’ side denied the visitors of winning their 16th Super League game in a row.

The Saints didn’t have it all their own way in the game, and managed to pull clear in the last 10 minutes – but their defence throughout was outstanding. Not many teams can limit a Wigan side featuring Bevan French and Jai Field to just one try in 80 minutes.

There were some big displays in the middle of the park from Alex Walmsley, Daryl Clark and Matty Lees, with the England trio delivering when it mattered most.

Outstanding O’Neill

One player who was unlucky to be on the losing side was Brad O’Neill. The Wigan hooker was outstanding and tackled pretty much everything that came in his way.

The 21-year-old has really cemented himself as Wigan’s starting hooker, with coach Matt Peet reiterating that point earlier this week.

O’Neill was probably Wigan’s best player on the day alongside Luke Thompson who was facing his former club for the first time.

O’Neill has already made more than 50 first team appearances despite only being 21, and he has already won everything there is to win at club level in the game – Super League Grand Final, Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and World Club Challenge. England call-up next, perhaps?

ANALYSIS: How Brad O’Neill has cemented himself as Wigan Warriors’ starting hooker

Yellow and red cards

Wigan went down to 12 men for 10 minutes towards the end of the first half when Tyler Dupree was sent to the sin bin for leading with the elbow against St Helens prop Matty Lees.

And they had prop Liam Byrne sent off on the hour mark for making contact to the head on Saints centre Mark Percival, with Saints capitalising on having the extra man in the closing stages as they scored their two tries to take the spoils.

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