Yates' verdict: Saints' performance leaves warm glow on freezing night

Alex Walmsley celebrates with try scorer James Roby
Alex Walmsley celebrates with try scorer James Roby

One swallow doesn't make a summer but Saints produced a performance against defending champions Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium last night to justify their status as one of the favourites to lift the Super League title.

There were more pluses than minuses on a bitterly cold evening as red-hot St Helens claimed a well earned victory to leave their neighbours already four points adrift if an appeal against a breach of the salary cap falls on deaf ears.

The hosts were quicker out of the blocks, storming into an early 12-0 lead with props Alex Walmsley - playing his first game since last March - and Luke Thompson leading from the front.

Any thoughts that Walmsley would be a little apprehensive on his return from a career-threatening neck injury were quickly dispelled in his opening 22 minutes spell on the field - producing some bone-crunching tackles and along with Thompson building a platform which their team-mates were able to capitalise on fully.

Wigan, too, showed why they will be one of the front runners for the title once again by the way they battled back to bring the scores level just when it seemed as if Saints were going to run riot.

But in the end Justin Holbrook's boys had too many aces up their sleeves, grabbing two more tries and nilling their neighbours in the final 40 minutes.

An elated Holbrook said: ''I'm really delighted with the win. It was a really tough game but that is expected against a champion side like Wigan.

''I thought we earned our 12-0 lead and were unlucky not to go further in front.

"As good a side as Wigan are, I thought it flattered them to be level at half-time but they don't go away, and then it was a really tough second half."

Wigan's interim head coach Adrian Lam said:: "We had a poor start and showed a lot of character to get back into the game, and then when I thought we could snatch the points towards the end of the game we ran out of fuel.

"I felt we made a lot of dumb decisions during the match but I think that will come with time.

''Tonight's game didn't define our season - and it was never going to whether we won or lost.''

Saints tries: Kevin Naiqama (2 mins), Jonny Lomax (15), Regan Grace (50), James Roby (73). Goals: Mark Percival (3,16,74).

Wigan tries: Ben Flower (28), Liam Marshall (36). Goals Zak Hardaker (29, 37)