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Round 9: St
Helens maul Wigan
St Helens piled on the agony for arch-rivals Wigan with a comfortable 48-10 victory in the Good Friday derby at Knowsley Road.
The engage Super League leaders maintained their 100% record to open up a four-point gap at the top and condemn the depleted Warriors to their heaviest defeat of the season in their first match since the sacking of Ian Millward.
A capacity crowd of 17,500 witnessed one of the biggest mis-matches in the history of this famous match as Wigan struggled to contain their high-class neighbours.
Without seven regulars through injury and suspension and fielding a barely recognisable pack, Wigan were involved in a damage-limitation exercise from the start, with precious little for their 2,500-strong loyal band of followers to cheer.
Wigan?s best spell came early in the match when, aided by a couple of penalties, they put the Saints defence under pressure and centre David Vaealiki went close to opening the scoring.
But there were echoes of their 75-0 humiliation at Knowsley Road last summer when Saints captain Paul Sculthorpe scored the first of his side?s eight tries after seven minutes, strolling through a yawning gap in the Wigan defence.
Centre Jamie Lyon, who kicked all eight conversions, set up a second for full-back Paul Wellens but Saints had to wait until two minutes before the break for their third, which came from Sean Long after half-back partner Leon Pryce had made the break.
Wigan would have been in an even worse mess but for the contribution of teenage winger Chris Ashton, who pulled off two try-saving tackles on opposite number Ian Hardman in the first half.
He also showed tremendous never-say-die spirit to deny Vinnie Anderson in the second half and demonstrated his pace to score an excellent long-range try.
Spirit alone, however, was not enough against a red-hot Saints and six second-half tries represented a fair reflection of the home side?s domination.
A storming break from man of the match James Graham and quick hands from Sculthorpe and Lyon worked Ade Gardner over at the corner within three minutes of the re-start.
Neat passing from captain Sean O?Loughlin and substitute Darrell Goulding then got Ashton into his big stride and he showed tremendous pace over 50 metres to ensure there was not another whitewash.
But it was only a brief respite for the Warriors. Hardman atoned for his earlier lapses by claiming a Sean Long kick to score a try and loose forward Jason Hooper touched down twice in five minutes.
The momentum was all with the leaders and the lively Pryce scored again from close range before Wigan gained further consolation a minute from the end when new signing Jordan James scored his first try for the club, which Pat Richards goaled.
St Helens (18) 48.
Tries: Sculthorpe, Wellens, Long, Gardner, Hardman, Hooper 2, Pryce. Goals: Lyon 8.
Wigan (0) 10.
Tries: Ashton, James. Goals: Richards.
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Hardman, Pryce, Long,P. Anderson, Cunningham, Cayless, Sculthorpe, Wilkin, Hooper.
Replacements: Fa?asavalu, Graham, Roby, V Anderson.
Wigan: Moran, Ashton, Vaealiki, Richards, Dallas, Orr, Higham,Seu Seu, Godwin, Hargreaves, Jonkers, James, O?Loughlin.
Replacements: Goulding, Tomkins, O?Carroll, Wilkes.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington)