Five talking points from Wigan v St Helens
Phil Wilkinson looks at five talking points from from Wigan's 29-18 derby victory against St Helens...
Good Fridays have been great for Wigan fans in recent years. This was their EIGHTH straight win in the Easter derby - six of those under Shaun Wane’s watch - and they were good value for this five-tries-to-three win. Saints trailed by only three points early in the second-half, but a three-try blitz inside seven minutes swung the game into the home side’s favour. Of course, Wigan were helped by...
Kyle Amor’s sending off. The Cumbrian prop was dismissed in the 13th minute for a high swinging arm on Liam Marshall as he returned a kick. Live, it looked awful, though replays suggested initial contact was made with the ball - dividing opinion on whether it should have been a red-card or not. Referee Ben Thaler, remember, was dropped last week having not sent off Brett Ferres in his last match in charge (the Leeds forward was later banned for six weeks). With that in mind, he could be forgiven for leaning towards red rather than leniency if he was uncertain. Saints’ co-caretaker coach Jamahl Lolesi felt Thaler should have consulted his video official.
Wigan scored five tries - and all of them were down the left edge. Joe Burgess maintained his personal record of scoring in all his Good Friday derbies, with two tries, and Liam Marshall also bagged a double - including a spectacular dive in the corner. Outstanding forward Liam Farrell also crossed, while the other played on that left edge, George Williams, was a frequent threat in his first match since signing a long-term deal with his hometown club.
Down to 12-men, St Helens dug deep but inevitably faded midway through the second-half. Shaun Wane repeatedly praised their opponents in his post-match briefing and, in a week in which coach Keiron Cunningham was sacked, they will take positives from their spirited display. One of the biggest positives was the exciting performance of young winger Regan Grace, who helped create one second-half try and scored another. Grace, interestingly, was making his Super League debut but has already played for his country - Wales - at Test level.
Finally, it was great to see Micky McIlorum play again after 14-months since he broke his ankle. He was introduced from the bench shortly before half-time, to loud applause, and replaced 13 minute into the second-half. He will need time to regain his match-fitness but there were signs of his old self - sharp distribution and niggling defence - to please Shaun Wane. The coach hinted he may rest the hooker, and Sean O’Loughlin, for Monday’s trip to Wakefield. Romain Navarrete, Joe Bretherton and Nick Gregson may come back into the mix.