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the Rugby League


The original derby pitted St Helens against the Wigan Warriors in the traditional Good Friday encounter which would see one of the two sides go clear at the top of the table while a big points loss for either side would see them slipping down a very tight league table.

It was a sell-out crowd at the Totally Wicked Stadium as arguably the best two sides in the competition went head-to-head, a mouthwatering prospect for the neutral as well as supporters of both sides.

The bookies were struggling to split the sides, making the home side slight favourites, and handicapping them by a couple of points, but it really was anyone’s as Saints looked to end a brilliant and lengthy Wigan winning streak.

Three repeat sets of six on the Wigan line with the game ten minutes old would have been too much for most sides but great defence kept Saints at bay when the odds were that they would have opened the scoring.

A knock-on from Jai Field followed by a penalty for offside gave Saints the opportunity to kick a penalty goal and from twenty metres out and twenty left of the uprights, he hit the target to give his side a 2-0 lead with twenty-six minutes on the clock.

On twenty-eight, Tyler Dupree led with the elbow when carrying the ball into Matty Lees, landing around the Saints player’s neck. The Wigan man seeing a yellow card as he was determined to have hit the chest prior to neck of Lees.

Wigan did well with twelve men and survived the ten minutes without conceding any points and Dupree re-entered the fray with just the one penalty goal separating the sides at the interval. Neither side had the best first half in attack, Wigan probably the happier that they were only two points adrift.

It was a high octane start to the second half from both sides but again it was the defences that held firm. Jai Field went close on fifty-four after a sustained period of Wigan pressure and after a new set of six Bevan French chased his own brilliant grubber kick to the right corner and grounded before sliding dead in goal. Harry Smith hit the near upright with his conversion attempt, Wigan with a two-point advantage.

On sixty-two Liam Byrne was sent-off for a shoulder to the head without mitigating circumstances. Wigan were down to twelve for the rest of the game and up against it as they looked to defend a two-point lead.

On seventy-two hesitations in the Wigan defence as they attempted to catch the ball dead in goal, allowed a speeding Tommy Makinson to collect a Lewis Dodd high kick to the corner and ground in one movement. Jonny Lomax was wide with the conversion, Saints now with a two-point advantage with six minutes remaining.

Three minutes from time Saints were awarded a penalty for a high tackle and elected to kick for touch and after running the ball Konrad Hurrell went in for the winning try. Lomax added the conversion as the final hooter sounded the end of the game.

A fifteen-game unbeaten Super League run for the Wigan Warriors comes to an end at the hands of their arch enemy who jump to the top of the table after edging a game which was punctuated by a sin-binning and sending off for the visitors. Saints really had to grind this one out with very little to choose between the sides but playing with twelve men for thirty minutes eventually took it’s toll, much to the delight of Saints and their fans.

St Helens: Welsby, Makinson (T), Hurrell (T), Percival (G), Bennison, Lomax (G), Dodd, Walmsley, Clark, Lees, Whitley, Sironen, Knowles. Subs: Mata’utia, Batchelor, Mbye, Wingfield. 18th Man: Davies.

Wigan Warriors: Field, Miski, Keighran, Wardle, Marshall, French (T), Smith, Byrne (SO on 62), O’Neill, Thompson, Isa, Farrell. Ellis.  Subs: Mago, Dupree (SB on 28), Leeming, Nsemba. 18th Man: Hill.

Half-Time: 2-0.

Full-Time: 12-4.

Score Progression: 2-0, (SB) : HT: 2-4, (SO), 6-4, 10-4, 12-4 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: St Helens – Wigan - Saints.

Referee: Chris Kendall.

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 29th Mar 2024 4:52 PM | Views : 12167 | Replies : 1 | BACK TO STORIES