Far too easy for Wigan

St Helens 20 Wigan 52

Little more than a week into the season and Wigan came ominously close to killing the Stones Centenary Championship stone dead with their biggest- ever score at Knowsley Road, writes Dave Hadfield.

All St Helens' early season optimism was exposed yesterday as mere wishful thinking during a first half when Wigan ran in 32 points without reply.

Saints were left to rue two neglected chances in the first 15 minutes as Wigan, even without the injured Shaun Edwards subjected them to painful humiliation.

It was fitting that it should be a former Saints player, Gary Connolly, who scored the opening try and set the tone for the afternoon, running 50 yards unmolested. Connolly, outstanding in even this rampant team performance, scored another before half time, with Andy Farrell, Nigel Wright and Simon Haughton also getting over the try line.

Saints had no answer to Wigan anywhere on the pitch, but were particularly helpless against Connolly, the loose-forward Farrell and the stand-in scrum-half Henry Paul. They had the hollow satisfaction of drawing the second half, but Wigan were easing off from the time that Martin Offiah, now sporting blue hair, superseding his blond look, went over for their sixth try.

Saints scored four tries in 15 minutes but they will not be fooled into thinking that they were anything other than a distant second best.

Jason Robinson's two tries emphasised that and underlined the game's problem as it goes into its second century. It can hardly be called healthy when one side can dominate all their rivals with such ease and contempt.

St Helens: Prescott; Hayes, Northey, Loughlin (Haigh, 51), Sullivan; Gibbs, Goulding; Fogerty (Dwyer, 21), Cunningham, Perilini, Matautia (Pickavance, 53), Nickle, Joynt.

Wigan: Radlinski; Robinson, Tuigamala (Smyth, 61), Connolly, Offiah; Wright, Paul; O'Connor, Hall, Cowie, Haughton, Cassidy (Quinnell, 32, Dermott, 67), Farrell.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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