ST Helens were roundly beaten by a dominant Wigan side but the final game of the 2012 Magic weekend will be remembered for a mass brawl which saw three players sent off.The Warriors had forwards Gareth Hock and Chris Tuson sent off by referee Ben Thaler, along with St Helens substitute Shaun Magennis, after they were ruled largely responsible for the fighting that erupted at a scrum in the 53rd minute.
Wigan were leading 34-6 at the time and managed to hang on with 11 men for a comfortable victory that brought down the curtain on the two-day jamboree at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium in sensational fashion.
The double-chasing Warriors were simply unstoppable as they swept aside their arch rivals for the third time in two months to extend their winning run in all matches to 10.
Poor Saints were once more no match for the 2010 champions, who continue to exact sweet revenge for last September’s play-off defeat.
Winger Josh Charnley, Super League’s top tryscorer, scored two of his side’s eight touchdowns to take his tally for the season to 20 and make up for another off-day with the boot.
He missed all four kicks at goal in his previous match against Huddersfield and managed just five successes from 10 attempts tonight to let Saints off the hook.
Full-back Sam Tomkins was also in magnificent tryscoring form but it was in-form Australian stand-off Brett Finch who did most of the early damage, creating the opening for Tomkins’ first try and then getting Hock in the clear for the second.
The powerful forward sliced between defenders Josh Perry and Sia Soliola and sidestepped full-back Paul Wellens for a glorious try which underlined his exceptional talent and makes his disciplinary lapses all the more perplexing.
Tomkins thrilled the Wigan fans who accounted for a good proportion of the crowd of 32,953 at the Etihad Stadium with a brilliant 50-metre solo try, demonstrating his guile and acceleration to take his tally for the season to 12.
It was near-perfection for the Warriors as skipper Sean O’Loughlin took a return pass from Darrell Goulding to touch down and, although a jinking run from Jonny Lomax created a try for Saints substitute Paul Clough, it was largely one-way traffic up to half-time.
Charnley grabbed his second on the stroke of the interval, racing onto Goulding’s deft kick to the corner, and it got even better for Wigan when veteran centre George Carmont, who turns 34 next month, fended off Michael Shenton to race 80 metres for their seventh try.
That took Wigan’s lead to 34-6 but they were forced to play the last 27 minutes with 11 men after Hock and Tuson paid the price for the second-half flare-up.
St Helens lost replacement forward Magennis at the same time but they gave themselves brief renewed hope when Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook showed exceptional pace for a prop to score a 20-metre try.
But Charnley kicked a penalty and then broke down the wing to get replacement back rower Liam Farrell over for Wigan’s eighth try before Wellens scored a consolation effort for his well-beaten side.