Rush’s derby vow

Wigan Warriors's Chris Tuson (top) throws a bunch at St Helens's Shaun Magnnis before both are sent off during the Stobart Super League, Magic Weekend match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Wigan Warriors's Chris Tuson (top) throws a bunch at St Helens's Shaun Magnnis before both are sent off during the Stobart Super League, Magic Weekend match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
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MIKE Rush has issued to a defiant message to Saints fans still smarting from a Magic weekend thumping, saying: “We can still have the last laugh on Wigan.”

The St Helens coach insists his side’s Grand Final ambitions are still firmly intact, despite the 42-16 defeat by Warriors at the Etihad Stadium.

Rush said: “We’ve a chance still to get enough points to get in the top four and, if everybody beats everybody else around them, why can’t we make that top two? We just need to put a run of games together, and we’ve got the personnel and the squad to do that.

“A couple of our lads did under-perform defensively against Wigan and it cost us.

“But we’ve not become rubbish overnight. There is still only one team that has beaten us, and we’ll get our chance against them later in the year.

“Last year, we drew with them at the Millennium Stadium, got beat on Good Friday, lost in a Challenge Cup semi-final but we still got to a Grand Final.”

St Helens’ dire defensive work against Shaun Wane’s high-flying Wigan contrasted with the stellar display they produced against Hull FC on Sunday.

They were forced to make a mind-boggling 367 tackles at the KC Stadium, which Rush believes could be a club record, and also had to drop out from under their own sticks on numerous occasions.

“We probably had only five scoring chances during the entire 80 minutes, but we were successful on three occasions,” said Rush.

“Had we the same possession as Hull, goodness knows how many points we would have finished up scoring.”

The Airlie Birds had 274 carriers compared to Saints’ 157, forcing the visitors into facing 12 back-to-back sets.

Saints full-blooded display was led by Jon Wilkin, who made 55 tackles, more than any other player.

Hooker James Roby (48), second-rower Tony Puletua (32), centre Josh Jones (26) and stand-off Lance Hohaia (19) also made a major contributions to a phenomenal defensive display.

Rush added: “I don’t think I have ever at any age level in which I have coached seen a team defend so much for such long periods.”