St Helens show their class on Derby Day


Photo Credit – Josh Knowles

It was St Helens who took the bragging rights with a real Champions performance in the second 40 minutes as they showed their class against rivals Wigan Warriors with a 34-16 victory.

A first half of mistakes and nerves was followed by a masterclass of efficiency, skill and passion as Saints thrived in front of a sold-out home crowd in round 15.

The result means Saints leapfrog Wigan on points difference in the Betfred Super League with three places previously separating the two sides before Friday nights contest.

It was a nervy start for the Warriors who fell behind after just three minutes as Joe Batchelor scrambled the ball over.

But the opener was quickly forgotten about as Harry Smith popped a kick over the top of the Saints defence and Jai Field burst through to remind the rest of Super League what a danger he is when he’s at top speed.

Saints then re-took the lead through Tommy Makinson following a Wigan knock-on with the winger going over in the corner. But again the advantage was lost when Wigan’s other star-man Bevan French got himself on the scoreboard.

French chased his own kick before a vital slip from Jack Welsby on his 100th Saints appearance allowed French to take advantage.

There was one more twist in the first half tale when Welsby made amends for his earlier slip by chasing his own short tap with the boot and going over which was confirmed by the video referee.

A huge moment in the contest by Saints giving themselves a slice more breathing room, but it remained a first half that hinted at quality, but was overshadowed by a catalogue of errors in a nervy derby contest.

Photo Credit – Josh Knowles

The second half began in similar fashion to the first with Saints getting an early try as Agnatius Paasi smashed his way over the line, but the performance felt a lot more complete from the Champions.

There was soon another added to the scoreboard for the hosts as James Roby unleashed a vintage burst, rolling back the years before Welsby slid over in front of the away following.

Wigan’s errors and poor decision making continued as they were made to pay for their mistakes and the Champions reaped the rewards in a real improved second-half performance.

With just under 20 minutes to play, Saints turned the screw once again on derby day as Welsby showed exactly why he receives the hype he does with an unreal, slick pass into the path of Makinson who had the easiest of finishes to put an end to the contest.

Photo Credit – Josh Knowles

Wigan did have their share of the possession heading into the final ten minutes. But there was still plenty of needless forward passes and aimless attempts to play the ball which left cherry and whites flooding for an early exit.

French had one more burst on 76 minutes but his lifted kick into the air was well collected by Makinson and there was time for one more addition to the score board as Abbas Miski went over in the corner for a consolation try, leaving the score 34-16

On the whole, this fixture has seen better contest over the years, but that won’t mean anything to Saints who back up a healthy win at Magic Weekend with a job well done at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Up next for the Champions is a trip to the MKM Stadium to face Hull FC whilst Matt Peet will have to go back to the drawing board in preparation for his sides game against Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup Quarter Finals.

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