Saints 10 Warriors 32

Lee Mossop celebrates after he scores the first try of the game
Lee Mossop celebrates after he scores the first try of the game

WARRIORS moved to the top of the Super League for the first time in 2011 in some style with a convincing victory over the old enemy.

After disappointing displays against Catalan and Castleford, the Warriors were back to their belligerent best when it mattered most to extend their unbeaten record over Saints to four matches.

A commanding first-half performance saw them go in to the break 20-0 to the good, thanks to tries from Lee Mossop, Pat Richards and Joel Tomkins.

Brett Finch’s try six minutes after the restart, along with Richards’ fifth goal, nipped any hope of an unlikely comeback in the bud, and fourth-quarter touchdowns by Tony Puletua and Tommy Makinson only served to paper over the cracks.

And Jeff Lima’s four-pointer, after a pinpoint kick from Sam Tomkins, added the icing to a thoroughly well-baked cake for Michael Maguire’s men.

As expected, Sam Tomkins and George Carmont were restored to the Wigan starting side, with Andy Coley making the bench after a minor knee operation.

And young Tomkins was soon the focus of attention as far as the Saints fans were concerned, the full-back being roundly booed every time he touched the ball just as he was during the England-Exiles clash last weekend.

The home fans were ecstatic when Tomkins found touch on the full with an early kick, although their joy was tempered when Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook knocked on under pressure from three Wiganers on the first tackle.

Warriors threatened inside the first 10 minutes when Carmont released Richards down the left, but the ball back inside was spilled and Saints were able to clear.

The Saints defence was breached again moments later with Mosssop making big yards down the middle, only to lack support and the chance had gone.

Mossop, though, wasn’t to be denied on the 15-minute mark, when he took a lovely short ball from Thomas Leuluai to crash over under the posts.

Richards added the extras, and he banged over a penalty from halfway just after the midway point in the half to give the visitors a bit of breathing space.

Saints almost won a repeat set when Tomkins somehow managed to wriggle out of a three-man tackle as he was being dragged behind his own line.

And Wigan took full advantage by notching the second try of the night just before the half-hour mark.

Paul Deacon was the architect, the half-back’s lofted bomb creating all kinds of trouble to Saints’ right-side defence, allowing Richards to pluck the ball out of the sky and score.

And the Wigan fans were in dreamland when their side scored again when Saints were unable to deal with another Deacon kick.

Kyle Eastmond spilled the ball under pressure from Josh Charnley, and Joel Tomkins took full advantage to race 40 metres, Richards’ goal giving Wigan a commanding 20-0 lead at the break.

One could only imagine what Saints coach Royce Simmons would have said to his troops at half-time in an attempt to stem the almost one-way traffic.

Whatever he said didn’t seem to have an effect, because it was Wigan who started the second period on the front foot.

And some good field position allowed Mike McIlorum the chance to scamper from dummy half to send Finch over just seven minutes after the restart.

Again Richards goaled, and there were more worrying signs for Saints when Paul Wellens reacted petulantly to a textbook kick-chase from Charnley, who collared his opponent right on his own line.

After Jon Wilkin booted out on the full, McIlorum was stopped a couple of yards short as the cherry and whites went for the jugular.

Saints managed to trouble the scorers for the first time at the three-quarter mark when Puletua crashed over from close range, with and Makinson’s goal reducing the arrears to 26-6.

And the home side had a brief glimmer of hope when Makinson crossed himself three minutes later after the Wigan defence failed to deal with a chip through from Jon Wilkin.

This time, the young winger couldn’t convert, although the Saints were within three converted scores with more than 15 minutes remaining.

It was nearly game over when Deacon almost forced his way over, desperate defence from James Roby keeping the half-back out.

But Wigan weren’t to be denied, and Lima followed up another clever kick by Sam Tomkins to give the scoreline more of a realistic look.