St Helens delivered a brilliant rugby league masterclass as they dominated their rivals Wigan Warriors 34-16 at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday evening in the Betfred Super League. The victory saw the Saints leapfrog Wigan in the league table by goal difference as their confidence continues to grow.
Paul Wellens’ side avenged their earlier season defeat against the Warriors with a commanding performance which had the World Club Challenge champions looking like the side that have dominated this division for the past four seasons.
The Saints came flying out the traps and an early mistake from Wigan saw Wellens’ side get an early breakthrough. James Roby picked out Jack Welsby, who took the ball to the line. He then gave the ball to Joe Batchelor who was able to get the try after being swarmed by Wigan bodies. Tommy Makinson was on hand to add the extras.
The visitors had to weather a powerful St Helens storm for much of the first half but through a moment of brilliance Wigan pulled themselves level. Harry Field spotted space in behind the Saints’ line and played a chip over the top which Jai Field sprinted to meet and get over the line. Smith then converted from in front of the posts.
After having a great individual Magic Weekend last week, Makinson continued his fine form as he crossed over to finish an excellent move to penetrate the Wigan line with his ninth try of the season. The winger then made no mistake from the spot to return his side’s advantage to six points.
For all their dominance, the hosts were struggling to shut out Wigan. Bevan French made it another impressive try for the Warriors. French played a deceptive grubber kick which planted Welsby and he stormed through to catch the ball following its awkward bounce and finish. Smith was unable to add the extras on that occasion.
Welsby was able to make amends minutes later to put the Saints back in front on his 100th appearance for the club with Makinson adding the extras to send them through at half time with an 18-10 lead.
Matt Peet tried to get his players to show more assertiveness on the field in the second half but they continued to struggle with St Helens’ continuous charges. Agnatius Passi started and finished an exquisite move from the reigning champions to record their fourth try of the evening to take the game away from their bitter rivals.
The fifth followed soon after with Welsby crossing for the second time in the match - making his landmark appearance one to remember. Makinson was next to get his second of the night as yet another well-worked move saw the Saints carve open Wigan to put the game beyond any doubt.
Abbas Maski managed to register a late consolation for Wigan but they were second best from start to finish as St Helens managed the game perfectly.
There have been times where St Helens have been quite underwhelming in Super League but they were outstanding on Friday night. That’s five wins on the bounce for Wellens’ men and they are looking to be back at their best. As for Wigan, this is a third consecutive defeat which is troubling. They will definitely need to perform better moving forward.