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Saints too good for Wigan
Saints too good for Wigan
The Warriors came up with a vastly-improved performance on their 75-0 humiliation in the Challenge Cup three weeks earlier but were still no match for the in-form Saints, who extended their unbeaten run under new coach Daniel Anderson to nine matches.
Blockbusting New Zealand Test centre Willie Talau scored two of his side?s seven tries as St Helens, boosted by the return of inspirational captain Paul Sculthorpe, kept up the pressure on champions Leeds.
Wigan were reminded of their 13-try thrashing by the sight of hundreds of Saints T-shirts emblazoned with the record scoreline but at least they were not nilled this time and teenage forward Bryn Hargreaves had the consolation of scoring his first Super League try.
Already without seven regulars, including four full internationals, the Warriors were forced to re-shuffle their back division after 15 minutes when full-back Chris Melling hobbled off with a leg injury never to return.
They were already trailing 12-0 by then after Saints set off at an exhilarating pace under the heavy influence of Sculthorpe, strangely playing at scrum-half for the most part.
Talau forced his way over after only three minutes after taking a cut-out pass from Sculthorpe, whose 40-20 kick set up a second try four minutes later.
Wigan looked to have saved a try by forcing Keiron Cunningham back from the line but he managed to get a pass out to dangerous centre Jamie Lyon, whose one-handed lob got winger Darren Albert over at the corner.
Sculthorpe added both conversions, the second from the right touchline, and looked capable of winning the game on his own.
But the Warriors managed to stem the early onslaught and ought to have pulled a try back on 14 minutes when winger Liam Colbon was first to Dennis Moran?s grubber kick to the line but could not pick up the ball cleanly.
As the visitors maintained the pressure, Sculthorpe came from nowhere to deny substitute Wayne Godwin a try, following a break by Stephen Wild, and Albert came off his wing to prevent Wigan using a clear overlap.
Having defended heroically, Saints were lethal on the counter-attack and struck again after the Warriors had been reduced to 12 men.
Winger Martin Aspinwall was sin-binned by referee Ronnie Laughton on 19 minutes for taking out Albert off the ball and, although Saints were denied a penalty try, they touched down within a minute when Lee Gilmour took Jon Wilkin?s pass to go through a gap.
Sculthorpe?s third goal made it 18-0 and Wilkin had a try disallowed for offside before Aspinwall, returning from the sin-bin, made amends for his earlier misdemeanour by scooting away from dummy half for a solo try, which Danny Tickle converted.
Both sides were reduced to 12 men within six minutes of the re-start after referee Laughton lost patience with their lying-on at the tackle and warned each captain.
Lyon was the first to go, followed by Wigan prop Danny Sculthorpe, and the gaps immediately began to appear.
But, where Wigan lacked the steadiness and finishing to seriously trouble a resolute home defence, Saints demonstrated their cutting edge with two long-range tries to pile on the agony for their visitors.
First Talau carved out an opening for his winger Ade Gardner with a blockbusting run out of his own half and the Cumbrian flier showed a clean pair of heels to the cover.
Then prop Paul Anderson showed a neat touch by putting full-back Paul Wellens into space and substitute Mark Edmondson, scorer of a hat-trick in the Cup rout, backed up to touch down and Sculthorpe kicked his sixth goal.
Saints then produced a trademark flowing passing move which ended with Talau flying in at the corner for his second try to make it 40-6 after an hour but defiant Wigan kept their pride intact by scoring two tries in the last nine minutes.
Hargreaves supported a break by the never-say-die Moran to open his account for the club and French international Jerome Guisset added another try, with Tickle kicking his third goal from as many attempts.
St Helens (24) 40. Tries: Talau 2, Albert, Gilmour, Roby, Gardner, Edmondson. Goals: Sculthorpe 6.
Wigan (6) 18. Tries: Aspinwall, Hargreaves, Guisset. Goals: Tickle 3.
St Helens: Wellens, Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner, Wilkin, Roby, Fozzard, Cunningham, P. Anderson, Gilmour, Bennett, Sculthorpe.
Replacements: Moore, Edmondson, Fa'asavalu, Graham.
Wigan: Melling, Colbon, Wild, Vaealiki, Aspinwall, Orr, Moran, Hargreaves, Newton, Guisset, Tickle, Allen, Botham.
Replacements: Sculthorpe, Godwin, Hansen, Tomkins.
Referee: Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley)
Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for the above review