Wigan 12-46 St Helens

St Helens made light work of a derby date with Wigan on Friday night, coming through 46-12 winners at the JJB Stadium to record their third derby win from three this season.nnThe victory stretches the Merseyside club’s magnificent winning streak to 15 games, as they retain their place at the top of the table ahead of Leeds’ visit to Les Catalans on Saturday night.nnSean Long, making his 300th appearance for the club, bagged 18 points in yet another sensational all-round display from Saints, firing himself to the top of Super League‘s points-scoring charts. Meanwhile, his former employers were reduced to 12 men just five minutes in, as their position in fifth place took another blow.nnThe visitors got off to the perfect start, opening up a 6-0 lead within two minutes of kick-off. Second-rower Lee Gilmour crashed over after neat interplay between Keiron Cunningham and Sean Long. Long added the extras.nnThings quickly turned disastrous for the home side, when referee Ashley Klein brandished a straight red card to young hooker Michael McIlorum, for a terrible high tackle on Saints winger Ade Gardner.nnThe Wigan crowd were left stunned and incensed, but for a possible neck-breaker, Klein had no other option but to dismiss McIlorum.nnFive minutes later, Keiron Cunningham came up with a trademark surprise barge over tacklers on the line to extend the visitors’ lead. Long converted to double the visitors’ lead.nnDaniel Anderson’s side could and should have further increased their advantage on 19 minutes, but wingman Francis Meli somehow managed to spill the ball when a simple catch from Leon Pryce‘s inside pass would have brought more valuable points.nnWigan took full advantage of Meli’s missed opportunity just a minute later, when scrum-half Thomas Leuluai crossed on the end of a great offload from Gareth Hock. Centre Cameron Phelps, taking over the goal-kicking duties from the ill Pat Richards, converted to cut the gap to 12-6.nnFollowing a positive spell from Wigan, young star James Roby regained the cushion St Helens held before Leuluai’s score, breaking through three tacklers on the line, after George Carmont had been penalised for dissent. Long added the extra to reopen the visitors’ 12-point lead.nnWhen it seemed Wigan were going in at half-time just 12 points adrift, St Helens fantastically exploited their extra man just two seconds shy of the break. Lightning quick passing along the line found Matt Gidley, who unselfishly fed Super League‘s top try-scorer Ade Gardner instead of touching down himself, giving Gardner his 22nd try of the season. Long narrowly missed the touchline conversion, so the visitors led 22-6 at the interval.nnWigan’s ill discipline continued, when Klein placed full-back Richard Mathers on report for a nasty late challenge on Jon Wilkin earlier in the try-scoring move.nnJon Wilkin, victim of Mathers’ dangerous late tackle just before the break, then grabbed the killer try five minutes after the restart, punting forward a loose ball and diving gleefully on it just next to the posts. Long kicked his fifth conversion from six attempts to give St Helens an unassailable 28-6 lead.nnJust minutes later, Gidley got in on the act, touching down in acres of space on the end of a superb Long grubber kick in. Long added the extras to make it 34-6.nnThe video referee then ruled out a Liam Colbon try, before Long compounded Wigan fans’ woes with a try of his own on his 300th St Helens appearance. A brilliant jink and offload by stand-off Leon Pryce, who had a relatively quiet game by his own standards, was pounced on by Long, who dived over emphatically in front of the travelling band of Saints supporters. Long converted his own try to reach the 40-point mark.nnVideo referee Ben Thaler then made himself even more unpopular with the Wigan faithful by deciding No Try to Thomas Leuluai, for a knock-on in the build-up.nnTen minutes from time, Gardner scored his second try of the game on the back of some neat lateral passing, before Matt Gidley showed the range of his qualities by landing the conversion from the corner.nnHooker Mickey Higham did earn the Cherry & Whites a scant consolation try five minutes from time, converted by Phelps, although around half of the home fans had already departed early after being embarrassed by the league leaders.nnSt Helens continued their perfect run of form ahead of next weekend’s huge Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds.nnIt wasn’t a case of Wigan underperforming, more a case of having to play 75 minutes of the match against arguably the best side currently on the planet.nnWigan – 12nnT: Leuluai (21); Higham (77)nG: Phelps (22, 77)nnSt Helens – 46nnT: Gilmour (2); Cunningham (11); Roby (30); Gardner (40, 70); Wilkin (47); Gidley (50); Long (58)nG: Long (3, 12, 31, 40, 48, 51, 58); Gidley (71)nnHT: 6-22nnRef: Ashley KleinnnAtt: 19,958

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