Big match verdict with John Yates

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Armed police officers were clearly visible at the Totally Wicked Stadium last night in the wake of the Manchester bombing but thankfully the only acts of aggression were reserved for the playing pitch.

Both Saints and Wigan Warriors slugged it out toe-to-toe in a tough and bruising encounter but were guilty of making too many handling errors to describe it as a classic.

It did, however, throb with excitement in front a vociferous 13,000-strong crowd and like the pendulum of a grandfather clock the initiative swung back and forth.

Wigan dominated the opening 40 minutes after a slow start and led 14-12 at the break, even though it appeared one of George Williams’ successful conversion sailed the wrong side of an upright.

Crucially, Saints reduced the deficit to two points shortly before the half-time hooter, giving them a stepping stone on which to build and despite still having their fair share of defending to do deservedly took the spoils 22-19 after a dramatic late try from the irrepressible Mark Percival.

Percival scored two tries and landed three goals and became the second St Helens players in less than a week to remind England boss Wayne Bennett that he made an error of judgement by leaving out the centre from his final squad for the Pacific Test against Samoa in Sydney a couple of weeks ago.

Alex Walmsley did likewise at the Magic Weekend five days earlier in Saints 45-0 thrashing of Hull FC.

Defeated Wigan boss Shane Wane was far from happy with one or two decisions which went against his team in a game he insisted they should have won but the same could be said of Saints who were also on the wrong end of some debatable calls from referee Phil Bentham whose overall performance on the night left a great deal to be desired.

As far as Saints are concerned, one of the plus points to emerge following such an intense 80 minutes played in Mediterranean-type conditions is they will be given more time to recover as their original fixture at Huddersfield on May 29 has been switched to June 16 due to the town’s soccer club being involved in the Championship play off against Reading at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday

It will also give new boss Justin Holbrook more time with his players on the training ground and also work on the tactical side of the game which can only be beneficial.