Rugby League

Joel Tomkins, pictured right, scored a try on his first appearance of the season.

Wigan enjoy a good Friday at St Helens

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Wigan produced their best performance of the season to take the spoils from their Good Friday derby at a packed out Langtree Park.

The Warriors bounced back in style from their first home defeat for 21 months and were well on their way to their emphatic 24-12 victory over a largely disappointing St Helens after establishing a 16-0 half-time lead.

Wigan skipper Sean O'Loughlin was in inspiring form in his makeshift stand-off role, while winger Dom Manfredi enhanced his claims for an England call and forward Taulima Tautai produced an all-action display befitting a typically bruising derby watched by a crowd of 17,980, one of three sell-outs in the first round of Super League's Easter programme.

Playing with a stiff breeze at their backs, Saints made the brighter start with France international half-back Theo Fages catching the eye on his full debut and Wigan were forced to concede two early drop-outs.

Full-back Shannon McDonnell won the race to Luke Walsh's grubber kick to the line but was unable to control the ball and only a last-ditch tackle by Manfredi denied Fages after he supported a break by skipper Jon Wilkin.

But the Warriors' defence was up to the task and, after withstanding that early onslaught, the visitors went on to dominate the rest of the first half to establish an unassailable 16-0 lead.

Manfredi broke the deadlock midway through the first half, taking a slick pass from Anthony Gelling to finish decisively, and then produced a wonderful mazy run that created the position for hooker Sam Powell to go over.

Wigan were beginning to break through the Saints' first line of with alarming ease and Wigan second rower Joel Tomkins took full advantage of their generosity to charge over for his side's third try 10 minutes before the break, with Matty Smith kicking his second goal to make it 16-0.

Saints thought they had got back into it early in the second half when the visitors allowed the ball to bounce from Wilkin's high kick and winger Tom Makinson chipped ahead after regathering but the try was disallowed by the video referee, who spotted a knock-on.

That enabled Wigan to tighten their grip on the game. Centre Oliver Gildart had a try disallowed for a ball steal but clean breaks by both Gildart and Gelling illustrated the greater potency of the visitors.

Wigan only had a Smith penalty to show for all their pressure in the third quarter, however, and they were forced into some more defence as St Helens got their second wind.

A run of penalties enabled Keiron Cunningham's men to pile on the pressure and it told on the hour when second rower Joe Greenwood went over for their first try, which Walsh goaled.

But any hope of a fightback was quickly snuffed out when former St Helens scrum-half Smith went through a gap for Wigan's fourth try and added his fourth goal.

The game continued to open up as the earlier defensive efforts began to take a toll on both teams and Fages went over for his first try for Saints, with Walsh kicking a second goal.

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Topics:
St Helens
Rugby League

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