SAINTS coach Paul Wellens gave his reaction to the gritty 12-4 win over Wigan Warriors on Good Friday.

Late tries from Tommy Makinson and Konrad Hurrell secured the victory and ended Wigan's winning run.

MC: Quite a game at times, like chess with muscle and bone?

PW: When you play games like that on Good Friday, two teams have to contribute to such a hotly fought contest and I thought Wigan were outstanding today as well.

I heard people say it's probably the closest thing you get to a State of Origin over here when these two teams play against each other.

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And I think that comes because the two clubs are so very similar in terms of the way they invest heavily in the youth, there's a real passion amongst both towns for their team, and there's an expectation around success and the highest standards are set and have to be met.

So that makes for what you see out there most times when these teams compete against each other.

MC: The halves were quite opposite in terms of territory with the amount of good ball you had first half and what you had to soak up in the second half. When they nudged ahead did you fear the worst having thrown so much at them without scoring a try in the first half?

PW: It was a bit of a kick in the teeth when they score because I thought we were defending superbly as they were as well.

And obviously, Bevan French, as he's shown so many on so many occasions can come up with something that's a bit different and he did that in that moment and but what we have to do from then is how are we going to respond?

And I thought our response was we was really good.

We weren't by any means perfect today. I think we coughed up way too much possession and that is a learn from us again moving forward going into big games.

But what you cannot fault or question is the effort and the amount of energy that this group of players put into winning that game.

MC: It felt like you really needed to get out of your own 40 late in that game and Alex Walmsley's carries were important in getting out of there. Immense today wasn't he?

PW: He was and I think particularly at the back end of the game, you need your big players to come to the party.
Al certainly stepped up but I think with our middle unit we've got a number of players who can do different things.

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And I think that's a real strength of ours through our middle.

Al is unique in terms of him being 6 foot 5 and 114 kilos is a battering ram and is hard to handle.

But Al couldn't do what he does on the field if he didn't have Morgan Knowles or Matty Lees at the side of him, or if he didn't have Jake Winfield coming off the bench.

Or George Delaney, when he plays, or Sione Mata’utia playing through the middle, having played centre last week.

These are special efforts from special players and you need all of that to go and win games like this.

MC: We know how dangerous the Wigan back three years and they can burn you. Your kicking game (to them) was smart and your chase quite effective.

PW: I thought we did a really good job with that. I think we had some practice in the last couple of weeks dealing with Leeds’ backfield.
It was a case of more of the same. But we know Wigan are dangerous in the outside backs.

They are hard to handle and you have to be switched on there, particularly with players like Jai Field who only needs a fraction of a metre to be able to punish you, and I thought we did a really good job in that aspect.

MC: Psychologically, the yellow card (for Dupree) could have worked against you because it can eat away, particularly if you don't go ahead or don't or don't take  advantage of it. What do you think of the yellow and how you responded to it?

PW: I think it is what it is. Weirdly enough, I don't want to play against teams who are numerically disadvantaged. I love Rugby League 13 v13, the best v the best, and whoever wins wins.

But I understand the way the game is changing and the way decisions have to be made like that.
Obviously we were on the positive side of that this week in terms of keeping players on the field.

But also, we've been hurt by that as well earlier on in the season.

Discipline plays a major part in the game now - more so than it's ever done and you've got to handle being down to 12 men at times and you have got to handle also playing against 12 men.

And weirdly enough, sometimes it can be more difficult playing against 12 and I think, you know, we stagnated a little bit during that period, but certainly wasn't a huge concern.

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MC: Going towards the back end and the opportunity that Tommy took, he has obviously been out of action for a couple of weeks, quality play and quality execution there wasn't?

PW: He’s been one of the best wingers, if not the best wingers in Super League for a long, long time.

But what I love about Tommy today and you can throw Konrad Hurrell in that too was defensively both were excellent.

And when those two blokes take the field with that energy with that effort, the willingness to invest in the defensive performances, invariably something happens for them in attack as well.

So you know that was a real positive for me to see.

MC : Team selection people will have noted that you have kept Waqa Blake out, but today people will understand why Jon Bennison has kept his shirt today?

PW: Wing was one of the really big decisions because I thought both Waqa Blake and Jon Bennison were excellent in the victories at Leeds and then obviously Tommy Makinson was returning.

But Tommy's Tommy and he's got credits in the bank and whether people agree with it or don't agree with it I love Tommy what brings to this team, so he got the shirt back and then I had a tough call to make.

Waqa has had a disruptive preseason, he has had a disrupted training week again, which was unfortunate and that's why I went with Jon Bennison.

I'm confident that both guys can do a great job, but I thought at the back end of that game Harry Smith put one of those kicks up, which believe you me I have stood under plenty of kicks like that and they are difficult to catch, but he made it look easy today.

And not only did you make it look easy, he made a 30-40 metre run off the back of it, which was a huge pressure reliever at the time.

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MC: You look at the crowd, you look at the fact that it's ended Wigan’s winning run it feels like another one of those Good Fridays that will go into Saints folklore now?

PW: I've just said to the group. There is myself and there's a number from St Helens who understand what the fixture means.

There's a there's a few other blokes who are starting to learn and understand what it means, which is OK as well.

But there's near 15,000 in the stadium tonight, minus a couple of thousand behind the other set of sticks, who have gone home absolutely ecstatic because their team has won a derby.

There are the wider things to that as well, the of St Helens has around 180,000 people in it.

And there will have been people all over the borough glued to the TV screens this afternoon watching that game, cheering the boys on.

And I said to the playing group then as someone who understands coming from the town, you cannot underestimate the impact that your team winning a game like that has on the town and the wider community.