Carney reaps benefits of Wigan dominance

St Helens 4 Wigan 28
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Wigan assured themselves of a top-three Super League finish by beating neighbours and arch rivals St Helens for the third and most comprehensive time this season last night.

Brian Carney scored two tries which were both spectacular in their different ways, but this was essentially a convincing team effort, with the tone set by a commanding pack.

Saints fielded what surely must have been the lightest pack in their recent history, although they had the bonus of Martin Gleeson returning at centre despite supposedly being ruled out for the season.

Wigan's extra power in the forwards paid early dividends when Jason Hooper held down Craig Smith in the tackle and Danny Tickle, with Andy Farrell already off the field with a twisted knee, landed the penalty.

The game's opening try stemmed from the unlikely boot of the Wigan prop, Quentin Pongia. He measured his kick perfectly for Brian Carney to catch and touch down on the right wing with Tickle successful from the touchline.

Saint's best chance of striking back came and went when their new signing, Willie Talau lost the ball in Kris Radlinski's tackle as the line loomed. Keith Mason also fumbled in a good position before Wigan went further ahead when Hooper was sinbinned for obstructing Terry O'Connor and Farrell, back on the field, kicked the goal that made him the first player to top 2000 points in Super League.

The short-handed Saints went further behind when Anthony Stewart gave the ball away and Gareth Hock planted it over the line, with Farrell again on the target. Two minutes before half-time, Carney broke through some weak tackling and beat Stewart on a 90-yard run to the line to complete 40 minutes of Wigan domination.

Saints were marginally less error-prone in the second half, but Keiron Cunningham saw a try that might just have revived them disallowed when he was held up over the line.

Wigan made it safe just before the hour mark, with Luke Robinson, on for the injured Lam, and Tickle combining smoothly to send Paul Johnson over.

Darren Smith's try averted the ignominy of a whitewash, but that was all Saints could achieve.

A penalty from Robinson rounded off a performance that hinted that even second place might not be beyond Wigan.

St Helens: Wellens; Albert, Gleeson, Newlove, Gardner; Long, Higham; Stankevitch, Cunningham, Bennett, D Smith, Talau, Hooper. Substitutes used: Jonkers, Stewart, Jones, Mason.

Wigan: Radlinski; Carney, Aspinwall, Hodgson, Dallas; O'Loughlin, Lam; Pongia, Newton, C Smith, Cassidy, Tickle, Farrell. Substitutes used: Johnson, O'Connor, Robinson, Hock.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).