St Helens too strong for Wigan on Good Friday

St Helens won the first Good Friday derby in nine years as they edged past local rivals Wigan in a thriller.

Shaun Wane made one change to his Wigan side that beat Huddersfield Giants last week. Sam Tomkins was ruled out with illness and young half-back Josh Woods replaced him.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook also made just one change to his side that won at Hull KR last time out. Ryan Morgan replaced the injured Adam Swift.

Wigan took an early lead at the Totally Wicked Stadium after St Helens were caught stealing the ball from Ben Flower. Morgan Escaré added a penalty goal from in front of the sticks to put the Warriors 2-0 up.

Joe Burgess thought he had scored for Wigan in the 12th minute, but it was ruled out by the video referee due to the ball being already dead when he grounded it.

It was St Helens who crossed for the game’s opening try, though. Luke Thompson got a fine offload away to Ben Barba, who rounded Wigan full-back Escaré to score. Danny Richardson converted to put Saints in a 6-2 lead.

Saints were in again late on in the first half. Zeb Taia crashed over the line from close range following a crisp pass from James Roby. Richardson added the extras to put the hosts 12-2 to the good at the break.

Wigan started the second half the better side and got their rewards. George Williams smartly used Joel Tomkins on his inside who then barged over. Escaré added the conversion and Wigan were only 12-8 behind after 46 minutes.

Escaré failed a concussion assessment midway through the second half and did not return for Wigan.

The Warriors took the lead for the first time in the 65th minute. Willie Isa cleanly picked up a wayward pass and reached over the line. Williams’ conversion put Wigan 14-12 ahead.

St Helens soon levelled the score, though. Wigan skipper Sean O’Loughlin was caught stripping the ball and Saints opted to take the two. Richardson added the penalty goal, St Helens 14-14 Wigan.

Sam Powell attempted a drop-goal for Wigan, but it was unsuccessful.

The home side motored up the other end thanks to a 50-metre break from Morgan. Lomax then threw a superb cut-out pass to Regan Grace who finished well in the corner. The conversion was good and Saints were 20-14 up.

In the 78th minute, Richardson added a drop-goal to all but seal the win for St Helens.

Joel Tomkins went over for Wigan with seconds remaining but it wasn’t enough as Saints ran-out 21-18 winners in the traditional Good Friday derby.

St Helens: 23 Barba; 2 Makinson, 3 Morgan, 4 Percival, 19 Grace; 1 Lomax, 18 Richardson; 10 Amor, 9 Roby, 16 Thompson, 17 Peyroux, 11 Taia, 12 Wilkin. Subs: 6 Fages, 13 McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14 Douglas, 15 Knowles.

Wigan: 20 Escaré; 2 Davies, 14 Bateman, 4 Gildart, 5 Burgess; 6 Williams, 7 Powell; 8 Clubb, 9 Leuluai, 10 Flower, 19 Isa, 12 Farrell, 13 O’Loughlin. Subs: 11 J Tomkins, 15 Sutton, 17 Tautai, 34 Woods.

Starman: Ben Barba was world class for St Helens in the first half so he gets the accolade, but Tommy Leuluai worked his socks off for Wigan.

Attendance: 17,980

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