St Helens 10 Wigan 30: Five things we learned

Sean O'Loughlin sealed the win with a try
Sean O'Loughlin sealed the win with a try

Five things we learned from Wigan’s 30-10 victory at St Helens...

1. This was the performance which marked Wigan down as serious, serious title contenders.

Yes, they were already second in the table and yes, they have pulled off some impressive wins already this season.

But this was their first against St Helens, and this was their best.

“Fair play to Wigan, they completely outplayed us,” said magnanimous Saints coach Justin Holbrook.

Counterpart Shaun Wane, making his last trip to Saints in a Wigan capacity, hailed their “attitude”. But there was so much more to admire. Such as...

Shaun Wane admitted he was "emotional" after his last win in St Helens as Wigan coach

Shaun Wane admitted he was "emotional" after his last win in St Helens as Wigan coach

2. Their attack.

Amid the brutality, there was adventure, ad hoc plays, crisp ball movement and a dazzling long-range effort from makeshift winger Oliver Gildart.

Switching Thomas Leuluai and Sam Powell, both impressive again, in the halfback-hooker roles has given the side more balance – and even the late withdrawal of Sam Tomkins didn’t disrupt them, with Frenchman Morgan Escare frequently sparkling.

Mentioning players changing roles – Dan Sarginson looks far more comfortable in the left centre spot and again caught the eye, not only for his two first-half tries.

And if we’re picking out players...

3. What a signing Joe Greenwood has been.

The ex-Saints forward, a mid-season arrival from the Gold Coast Titans, frequently caused mayhem down the left flank.

“There’s so much improvement in Joe, it’s frustrating,” said Shaun Wane. “But he’s improving every week.”

Let’s hope he is right!

In a superb team outing, John Bateman, Tony Clubb and fit-again Sean O’Loughlin also made telling contributions.

4. As for St Helens, they were never ahead but they threatened a comeback when they cut the margin to 18-10 with Tommy Makinson’s second try.

This was their third defeat in four games but given the quality they showed before then, only fools would write them off.

Wane spoke of his disappointment at conceding just before half-time, but credit to Makinson for an unbelievable try exhibiting skill, balance and poise. It did his England chances no harm at all.

5. Wigan players afterwards spoke about enjoying the win, but not getting carried away.

And fans only need to look back to last year - when a stunning win at Saints was followed by a demoralising defeat against Cas’ two weeks later - to know how quickly things can change.

But still, it’s hard not to escape the feeling that Wigan are building, they are improving, and they have a hunger to get to Old Trafford.

The race to win the league leaders’ shield is surely over. The race to the Super League trophy - with Saints faltering, and Warrington and Castleford in the mix - should be fascinating.