Tomkins' tries set example but red cards mar Wigan display
St Helens 16 Wigan 42
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
The Etihad Stadium
Monday 28 May 2012
Wigan saved the best – and even a little sample of the worst – until last at the Etihad Stadium last night.
What was billed as Super League's Magic Weekend lived up to its title as the competition leaders brought out their full range of tricks to bamboozle their biggest rivals.
It briefly turned into a different sort of spectacle entirely in the second half, when a scrum erupted in a rash of confrontations resulting in three players – two from Wigan – being sent off.
If it did nothing else, it helped to keep the score down. Five tries in the first 25 minutes ensured that they would beat Saints – who are getting along fine against everyone else – for the third time in six weeks.
Two of those tries were scored by the irresistible Sam Tomkins, starting in the sixth minute, when Brett Finch broke away past Sia Soliola and the most gifted player in the game reacted instantly to get up in support to seal the move.
Four minutes later, Soliola – normally a rugged defender – was implicated again as Gareth Hock brushed past him for the second.
Audacious overhead passes from Thomas Leuluai and Darrell Goulding then set up Josh Charnley for his first, before Tomkins' sleight of hand and killing acceleration produced the try of the half.
Goulding stood in the tackle to send Sean O'Loughlin over and, even after Saints got one back through Paul Clough, the Warriors had the last word before the half-time break with Charnley's touch-down from Goulding's clever little kick.
It was sumptuous, if rather one-sided, entertainment to end a weekend that attracted a record aggregate crowd of 63,716, apparently justifying the League's policy of "keep it local" after past forays to Cardiff and Edinburgh.
It got worse for Saints when George Carmont, not renowned for his blinding pace, went 80 metres at the start of the second half.
The complexion of the game changed radically when that scrum turned into a rolling brawl. When the dust settled, the referee, Ben Thaler, showed the red card to Hock, his team-mate, Chris Tuson, and Saints' Shaun Magennis.
"It was a tough call and it killed the game," said the Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, who not surprisingly preferred to focus on his side's class in the first 25 minutes. "That was the real us," he said. "Now I want us to keep it going for longer."
Saints' Mike Rush was forced to agree. "For the first 25 minutes they were excellent," he said. "But defensively we need to aim up. It just wasn't good enough."
The rest of the game was notable for a terrific long-range try from Saints' prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and another score from his captain, Paul Wellens.
Overall, though, Wigan defended well with their 11 men and poached a final try of their own through Liam Farrell. "We've got skilful people and we've got tough people," said Wane.
St Helens Wellens; Gardner, Shenton, Wheeler, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Soliola, Flannery, Wilkin. Substitutes used Clough, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Puletua, Magennis.
Wigan Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Gelling; Finch, Leuluai; Dudson, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used Lima, Farrell, Tuson, Lauaki.
Referee B Thaler (Wakefield).
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
Latest in Sport
Brooklyn Beckham poses in Arsenal training kit following rumours of signing for the Gunners
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer talk: Juan Cuadrado Chelsea move imminent; Manchester United eye Nathaniel Clyne; Andre Schurrle medical at Wolfsburg
Danny Ings to Liverpool: The Reds attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
Kim Sears 'swearing' outburst threatens to overshadow Andy Murray's Australian Open semi-final win
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures