Derby day disaster

Saints v Wigan
Saints v Wigan
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SAINTS were left playing for little more than pride after suffering a 10-32 defeat in Friday’s one-sided derby game.

The win at the Stobart Stadium puts defending champions Wigan top of Engage Super League for the first time this season.

Coach Royce Simmons will refuse to use this his side’s crippling injury list as an excuse and he will have been left with plenty to ponder after this stunning defeat.

The Warriors were at their clinical best as they roared into a 26-0 lead after 46 minutes and, although Saints restored some pride with quick-fire tries from Tony Puletua and Tom Makinson, there was no disguising the ease of the champions’ victory.

Points machine Pat Richards scored one of his side’s five tries and kicked six goals from as many attempts as Wigan became the fifth different leaders of Super League XVI.

They needed a last-minute try to beat their arch rivals on Good Friday but this contest was over by half-time when they led 20-0 on their way to taking five points out of a possible six in derby clashes this year.

Boosted by the return of Sam Tomkins, George Carmont and Andy Coley, Wigan had all the early possession and used it to good effect, with stand-off Brett Finch enjoying his most influential game so far for the champions.

The Warriors kept their opponents pinned deep inside their own half with some tremendous tactical kicking and Saints would have been in deeper trouble but for some typically courageous defence by full-back Paul Wellens, who twice miraculously brought the ball back from his own line to avoid goal-line drop-outs.

It was almost inevitable when Wigan prop Lee Mossop opened the scoring on 14 minutes, taking Thomas Leuluai’s short pass to crash over for a try and so doubling his tally for the season.

Richards added the conversion and landed a penalty on 25 minutes after Chris Flannery was punished for holding down Sam Tomkins in the tackle to extend his side’s lead to 8-0.

The reigning Man of Steel was never far from the action and he grabbed his 13th try in 12 matches since his comeback from a ruptured Achilles after outjumping St Helens rookie winger Makinson to collect Paul Deacon’s high ball on 28 minutes.

And Richards was the architect three minutes later when his kick caused confusion in the Saints defence and makeshift centre Joel Tomkins demonstrated his remarkable pace to collect the loose ball and score from 30 metres out.

England international Jon Wilkin tried his best to rally St Helens, who lost winger Jamie Foster with a cut eye midway through the first half, but their only clear break came seven minutes before the break and was quickly snuffed out by the impressive Wigan cover.

Trailing 20-0, there was no way back for the home side when Finch took Michael McIlorum’s pass from dummy half to force his way over for Wigan’s fourth try six minutes into the second half.

Saints were in danger of being nilled for the first time for four years until forward Puletua went through a rare gap in the Wigan defence on 18 minutes and five minutes later Makinson pounced on Lee Gaskell’s kick for a second try.

St Helens had 14 men on the field at the time of their second score, with Foster having returned to replace centre Michael Shenton, who was still on the pitch having treatment for a leg injury.

Wigan fittingly had the final say when prop Jeff Lima pounced on a loose ball over the line and Richards wrapped up the scoring with his sixth goal.