Saints end Noble's reign

St Helens 14 Wigan 10

Brian Noble walked away from his job as Wigan coach with head held high on Saturday, after losing again to a side that knows how to win semi-finals.

It was the fifth defeat of Noble's tenure at that stage of the Challenge Cup and the Super League play-offs – and ultimately that is not good enough for a club with Wigan's aspirations.

No matter that he rescued them from the threat of relegation three years ago and has improved standards across the board.

Wigan are still not winning things. Hence the decision of the chairman, Ian Lenagan – made weeks ago but only announced on Saturday – that Noble must pursue his career elsewhere, probably at the Celtic Crusaders.

"We believe on balance that it is now time for change at Wigan, to progress to even higher levels and achieve the trophy-winning success which our fans rightly expect," he said after the match. It would not even have saved Noble's job if Wigan had broken their recent habit and reached the Grand Final at Old Trafford. The die was cast and Wigan will name their new coach on Wednesday.

The icy gap that has grown between chairman and coach was evident in their different assessments of their latest near-miss.

Noble spoke of his pride in the players' effort, the injustice of their defeat and their potential for the future.

Lenagan had his chance to share in those sentiments, but instead referred to it frostily as "a decent performance – but we're capable of better".

The chairman yearns for the days when Wigan lorded it over the likes of St Helens. They could have ended a win-less sequence at Knowsley Road that goes back to 2003, but in the end were not quite good enough.

One reason for that was the enduring mastery of Sean Long, another man taking his leave this weekend after agreeing his transfer from Saints to Hull.

Old Trafford will be a fitting swan-song, but this was his farewell to his adoring home crowd. It was not one of his very greatest games, but it can be added to the long, long list of extremely influential ones.

Not only did he score a try and make one, he was also responsible for two vital tackles – the latter a controversial drag into touch on Joel Tomkins when Wigan were threatening to salvage the game.

He might have been lucky to get away with that, but overall his Saints career has provided the sort of X-factor that Wigan crave.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Eastmond, Meli; Pryce,

Long; Graham, Cunningham, Puletua, Flannery, Wilkin, Gilmour, Clough. Substitutes used: Roby, Hargreaves, Clough, Fa'asavalu.

Wigan: Phelps; Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; S Tomkins, Leuluai; Coley, Riddell, Prescott, J Tomkins, Hansen, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Fielden, Paleaaesina, Flanagan, Mossop.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home