Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Wigan 18 Saints 26
SAINTS ended their derby hoodoo with an emphatic win over the Warriors, who played the last hour with 12 men after hooker Michael McIlorum was sensationally sent off.
Man mountain Tony Puletua was in inspired form, creating three of Saints’ scores with the most sublime of touches. Alas the talking point will focus on McIlorum, who felled Saints prop Anthony Laffranchi with a late tackle in the 17th minute prompting referee James Child to show him the red card.
Although Saints dominated the opening 10 minutes, Wigan broke the deadlock when Kiwi scrum half Thomas Leuluai powered past some sloppy defence to score.
Wigan probably fancied making it four derby wins on the spin but sorely missed their dummy half and Saints benefited, even if they did play it a little too conservative to make the one man advantage tell.
However, eventually it did drain the Warriors of some juice, given the burden of the extra tackling.
Saints got back on level terms when hooker James Roby swooped for the opener after taking a wonder ball from Puletua. And Saints hit the front when centre Michael Shenton’s spun out of the tackle to send wing Tommy Makinson squeezing in at the corner.
The try took some scoring – as did the kick from the touchline, which gave Saints a six-point lead at the break.
However, Pat Richards struck first for the Wigan after the break to level matters and wake up the home fans in the 21,522 crowd – the biggest of the year at the DW Stadium. It would have been a hammer blow had Saints lost this game against their depleted rivals – particularly as they would have then had to face them again next week.
But Saints dug in and made their one man advantage tell in the closing quarter. Once again Puletua was the man, his long legs galloping through Wigan defence following a scrappy turnover ball, and he had support to send speedy second rower Andrew Dixon dashing over on the hour mark.
That killed off the Wigan resistance, and two more tries in the closing minutes made sure of a top three finish for the eighth year in a row.
Puletua again provided the pass for teenage centre Josh Jones to cross before Jonny Lomax worked a great one-two with prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, stepping Sam Tomkins before touching down.
Tomkins grabbed the last try of the night – but by that stage plenty of the Saints fans had their backs to the action doing the Poznan. Although not yet confirmed, it is now likely that Saints will play Warrington at the Halliwell Jones in the qualifying play-off on Saturday 6pm.
Wigan: Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Leuluai; Fielden, McIlorum, Lima, Hansen, Hock, O’Loughlin. Subs: Mossop, Farrell, Dudson, Flower.
Saints: Wellens; Makinson, Shenton, Jones, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Puletua, Wilkin. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Greenwood, Clough, Dixon.