NEW Saints boss Justin Holbrook showed that he has bought into this job straight away when he jumped out of his seat and punched the air as Mark Percival leapt for the match-winner three minutes from time.

It had looked as though Holbrook was going to start his home debut with a defeat against the old foe, with a Tommy Leuluai drop goal separating the teams with only three minutes to play.

But after seeing two drop goals flap wide, Saints attacked again – but the keenness of the Wigan defence had kept Smith away from a clean shot at the uprights.

Instead he had to try something different, with the ex-Wigan scrum half launching the perfect up and under wide for Percival to attack, picking the pocket of Lewis Tierney mid-air to collect and saunter over in front of a suddenly ashen-faced travelling contingent.

It had been a ferocious encounter, one which Wigan physically bossed for large parts, and Saints will certainly know they have been in a game.

Saints had got off to a perfect start when big Alex Walmsley continued from last week when his bullocking run gave Smith the platform to launch a kick wide for Ryan Morgan to reach up for and ground after just four minutes.

It was all Saints at that point but they could not extend the lead and Wigan began to get their feet under the table, replying with a straightforward passing move with Leuluai creating an overlap for young wing Tom Davies to cross.

George Williams arrowed over the conversion, although from the angle directly in line it had appeared to have just drifted to the right.

Thankfully that was not a telling two-pointer.

Wigan upped the ante physically and Saints suddenly found it difficult to make headway in the face of a brickwall defence and some slow rucks which sucked the life out of them.

Williams kicked Wigan in front on 22 minutes and the Warriors stretched the lead when Tierney backed up an incisive Sam Powell break through the middle to make it 14-6 on 30 minutes.

Saints needed a momentum changer and got it with a Wigan dropped ball which allowed Smith to diagonally grubber the ball wide for Taia to ground on 34 minutes.

Although Percival tagged on the extras, on the stroke of half time he missed the opportunity to level when he put a 40 metre penalty goal wide.

Saints, trailing 14-12, were at least still hanging on in with the scoreboard not reflecting Wigan’s dominance.

Saints came out and had plenty of pressure on the Wigan through a variety of repeat sets but all came to nought.

In desperation they tried to toss the ball around, the find away around the ferocious in-your-face Wigan defence but a loose pass in their own half allowed Wigan to capitalise.

Saints had held them out, but Joe Burgess exploited Adam Swift’s reluctance to spoon the ball dead from a Leuluai grubber to get his palm down on the ball before he went over the whitewash.

That looked like a killer score, with Wigan 18-12 ahead with 20 to play.

Saints efforts to make a breakthrough were repelled, and it took a piece of special play from England centre Percival to get them back into it.

He collected a pass from the lively Theo Fages on the 20-metre mark before using his pace and awareness to weave a way through the Wigan defence to cross between the posts. And boy did he celebrate in front of the Cherry and White hordes, before levelling with the conversion.

Saints had first crack at a drop goal, but it did not threaten the uprights, before Leuluai nailed one with ten minutes to go.

Makinson and Smith had both failed with one-pointers, but with 77 minutes on the clock Saints put the ball in the air with Percival delivering the spoils to send the home fans and new boss home happy.

There is still plenty of work to do, but a derby win like this, without being at their best, is always a positive sign.

Saints: Makinson; Swift, Percival, Morgan, Grace; Fages, Smith; Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, Knowles. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Thompson, Lee.

Wigan: Tierney; Davies, Forsyth, Burgess, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, Mcilorum, Sutton, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin.

Subs: Powell, Tautai, Wells, Field.