Friday, 18 April 2014

Warriors Ruin Saints Streak

A gloriously sunny afternoon in St Helens saw Wigan become the first team to defeat the Saints who went into the game with nine consecutive wins while hoping to overturn a streak of four Good Friday defeats.

Both sides named strong sides but from the opening kick-off, Saints knocked on and gave Wigan possession in a great position and the Warriors utilised the advantage as O'Loughlin sneaked through a gap in the defence to cross for the opening try.  Smith converted with ease to give the visitors a 0-6 lead.

Saints responded well as a nice run by Makinson saw him score in the corner with his one-handed technique to become the first player to reach ten tries in 2014, Walsh converted to bring the sides level at 6 all after only six minutes. Saints thought they had taken the lead when Wilkin found Dawson with the winger claiming a try in open space but Silverwood went to the screen and the video referee chalked the effort off for crossing in the build-up.

Wigan regained the lead in the 16th minute when a fine break from O'Loughlin resulted in him picking out Sarginson with the winger crossing for the try, Smith converted well for a 6-12 lead for the Warriors. Saints went further behind within four minutes when a kick from Green found Burgess out wide and he in turn picked out Farrell who collected single handed and crossed after eluding Lomax, Smith continued his success from the boot and Wigan now led 6-18.

Saints reduced the deficit in the 25th minute when Walsh picked out Makinson and alike his first try he went one-handed in the corner to the anguish of the onlooking Wigan fans in the East Terrace, Walsh missed the long range conversion to put Saints within two scores at 10-18. Turner crossed for the hosts in the 34th minute but the joy was dampened as Silverwood went to the screen and the decision was 'No Try', but he was successful from seconds later from the next play but Walsh missed again with the score now 14-18.

Wigan made it 14-20 at the interval when they were awarded a penalty with just seconds left of the half and took the most logical option with Smith kicking for goal and doing so superbly. St Helens needed to call on the spirit they displayed when coming back against Castleford last week if they were to win but fell further behind only three minutes into the second period, a grubber kick from Burgess found Farrell who kicked forward and got lucky when a ricochet off Lomax saw the ball rerun to the Wigan forward who crossed for his second try. Smith converted and Wigan were in control at 14-26.

Whatever was said to the Warriors at half-time certainly paid off as they were in again inside four minutes as Bateman sucked into two defenders before finding Burgess who crossed for a well deserved try, Smith continued his streak to put Wigan three scores ahead at 14-32 and leave the hosts needed a miracle to keep their 100% record intact.

O'Loughlin's superb performance acquired a black mark as he was put on report after a tackle on Dawson but St Helens failed to take advantage of the good position as Wigan regained the ball and a couple of sets later, they were awarded a penalty and Smith kicked for goal but missed narrowly with Lomax collected the ball and going on a string run at the Wigan defensive line.

Wigan all but confirmed the win in the 66th minute when Smith sent over a drop goal for a 14-33 lead meaning Saints needed to score four times and though this season writing them off can be perilous, it was hard to see them coming back in this instance. Both sides continued to exchange sets but with no crucial effect as Wigan held on to end St Helens perfect run in 2014 and extend their Good Friday winning streak over the Saints to five in a row.

A superb game from start to finish for Wigan and a second win in three visits on a personal level with  Good Friday wins both home and away secured at the first attempt (2011/2014) but off on the prediction of 18-24 but glad to be overall.