St Helens 24 Wigan Warriors 6: Adrian Lam's side lose fifth time in a row
Saints piled the misery on under-fire derby rivals Wigan to send them crashing to a fifth straight defeat.
It was a physical, niggly, messy encounter soundtracked to the frequent trill of James Child's whistle.
The frustration of Wigan s slump in form was evident throughout their disjointed display. They were unable to match Saints' composure and discipline and at one stage down were reduced to 11 players with two - Kai Pearce-Paul and Willie Isa - dispatched to the sinbin.
Liam Farrell - who scored their only try - was among those who managed to impress in a beaten side, but Wigan's highlights reel would be short.
They spent much of their first-half on defensive duty and were, again, unable to score as they trailed 18-0.
They improved in the second-half, drawing 6-6, but the damage had been inflicted and the effectiveness of their attack rarely matched the doggedness of their defense.
Those seeking light at the end of the tunnel may take comfort from the fact five of Wigan's next six games are against the bottom four sides, and they should be able to welcome back some more stars.
But the pressure will intensify on Lam and his players after a fifth loss, a run Lam previously endured early in his coaching reign in 2019.
In their first derby since last year's epic 8-4 Grand Final defeat, Brad Singleton returned from suspension - replacing injured Morgan Smithies - but Lam was still without a clutch of frontline stars such as Zak Hardaker, Bevan French and John Bateman.
Saints were playing their first game since a 6-2 loss to Warrington 17 days earlier after Covid wreaked havoc with their fixtures.
Wigan, by contrast, headed into the derby just four days after a 40-14 loss to Warrington - their fourth straight defeat.
If they were sore and exhausted from that quick turnaround, the last thing they needed was an energy-sapping defensive stint - but that's what they had to endure in the opening half.
Saints had the weight of possession and position and while the Warriors only leaked two tries, they trailed 18-0 with Lachlan Coote kicking five goals.
And Wigan's woes deepened just before the break when Kai Pearce-Paul was sinbinned for a late challenge.
Coote was a figure-head throughout, booting an opening penalty and then launching a pinpoint bomb which Jake Bibby couldn't defuse, leading to Regan Grace's 14th minute try.
Coote converted, hit a subsequent penalty and in the 25th minute crossed for a try from a bobbling Theo Fages pass, converting to make it 16-0 in the 25th minute.
Wigan improved enough to have a crack at Saints' line, but three attacks failed to cause any problems, as Thomas Leuluai spilled under pressure and then short kicks - by Harry Smith and Jackson Hastings - went out of play.
Coote's penalty made it 18-0 but was off-target on the siren after Pearce-Paul had been yellow-carded for a late shoulder charge - a decision which was criticised as harsh by some players on social media.
Already down to 12, Wigan lost Ollie Partington to a head injury from the restart, Singleton spilled possession and then Isa was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on Jack Welsby.
Percival took advantage of the tiring defence, blazing through for Saints' third try which Coote converted to make it 24-0.
But with Peace-Paul and then Isa returning, Wigan improved, forcing two repeat sets for Farrell to crash over and open their account. Smith's goal reeled in the gap to 18 points and neither side was able to conjure up any clear chances in a final quarter with plenty of needle but no more points.
St Helens: Coote; Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mata'utia, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Amor, Paasi, Welsby, Dodd.
Wigan: Hastings; Bibby, Isa, Gildart, Marshall; Leuluai, Smith; Singleton, Powell, Bullock, Farrell, Pearce-Paul, Havard. Subs: Byrne, Partington, Shorrocks, O'Neill.
Referee: James Child