A purple patch of two tries against the run of play midway through the second half gave Saints victory last night in a pulsating local derby that Wigan dominated. The home side had all the play and made most of the openings, but it was Saints, with Leon Pryce again influential, who took their chances.
Wigan gave their midweek signing Martin Gleeson an immediate debut against his old club, but he figured only peripherally as the Warriors made a whirlwind start. The high tempo at which Wigan were playing harried Saints into some uncharacteristic errors, culminating in Keiron Cunningham passing straight into touch from the base of the scrum. Wigan eagerly accepted the gift of possession, with Thomas Leuluai kicking precisely into the corner and Shaun Ainscough touching down for the 10th try of his spectacular debut season.
Unfortunately, Ainscough was one of the players then implicated in allowing Paul Wellens' kick-off to bounce into touch. It was Saints' turn to accept a present, Cunningham quickly making up for his earlier error by ploughing over for a close-range try which Wellens converted.
Wigan, making all the first-half running, must have wondered how they could be behind. It took almost 15 minutes of virtually non-stop Wigan pressure after the break for them to get their noses in front.
It was James Graham's fumble and a penalty against Ade Gardner for a swinging arm that enabled them to turn the screw. Sam Tomkins' lovely pass gave Ainscough just enough room to squeeze in at the corner, with Amos Roberts adding an excellent goal. That was the signal for Saints to step it up a gear. James Roby and Leon Pryce struck the first blow, moving the ball crisply for Matt Gidley to get over for the equaliser.
Wigan had not recovered from that when Wilkin launched a high kick and Pryce plucked it out of Roberts' arms for the winner, with Kyle Eastmond landing his second conversion and a late drop goal for insurance.
Wigan: Phelps; Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Ainscough; S Tomkins, Leuluai; Fielden, Riddell, Coley, Hock, Bailey, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Hansen, Paleaaesina, McIlorum, Prescott.
St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Gilmour, Meli; Pryce, Wilkin; Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Puletua, Ashurst, Clough. Substitutes used: Fa'asavalu, Roby, Eastmond, Frodsham.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).Reuse content