St Helens 32 Wigan Warriors 10: Five things we learned
Five things we learned from Wigan's 32-10 defeat at Hull KR...
1 Wigan have come a long way in recent weeks...but there's still a long way to go
Five wins on the spin had lifted Adrian Lam's men from the fringes of the relegation battle to within touching distance of third spot. But any fans starting to think of Old Trafford were given a sobering reminder of exactly why Saints are now 10 points clear at the top. Their defence was watertight, and their attack was impressive when they got the ball out. Wigan didn't help themselves with a drop in completion rate - but they were made to pay a high price.
2 Not that it was all negative from a Warriors point of view
Yes, the better side won, but there were plenty of positives from Wigan. As coach Lam acknowledged after the game, they gave as good as they got in the opening quarter, and were very much in the game at half-time, only 12-4 down. While the game was taken away from them by a three-try blitz immediately after the restart the way Wigan stuck to their task in the final quarter - when the floodgates threatened to open - and not only keep out the Saints but pulled back a try themselves. That showed character.
3 Wigan's young pack will have learned so much
It might not feel like it now, but Morgan Smithies, Oliver Partington and Liam Byrne will be better for the experience in the long-term. They won't come up against the likes of Alex Walmsley, Luke Thompson and Morgan Knowles every week, and will have seen the benchmark for which to aim and, hopefully, surpass.
4 Adrian Lam won't be reaching for the panic button
The Warriors coach retained a pragmatic air as he fielded questions from the media after the game. While admitting his side were their own worst enemy in terms of completion, he also pointed out the big guns his side had been lacking..."Clubb, Flower, O'Loughlin, Greenwood...(with Leuluai also spending time off the field)...that's your Grand Final pack"... While the young guns certainly didn't let down themselves or their coach, it was always going to be a tough ask with those lads out of the equation.
5 The race for the play-offs goes on
Wigan's season certainly won't be defined by this one - Saints are beating pretty much everyone this year! Next Thursday's game against Wakefield at the DW will have much more of a bearing on the league table, and the Warriors coach could certainly have done without the short turnaround as he looks to get battered bodies back on to the field.