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Page last updated at 21:20 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 22:20 UK

Wigan 38-18 St Helens

Wigan (24) 38
Tries: O'Loughlin, Richards 2, Hock, Tomkins, Leuluai Goals: Richards 7
St Helens(6) 18
Tries: Long, Pryce, Wellens Goals: Eastmond, Long 2


Gareth Hock
Gareth Hock offloads as Wigan cruise past St Helens in Edinburgh

Wigan took revenge for two previous Magic Weekend defeats by St Helens with a thumping win over their rivals.

Winger Pat Richards scored 22 points in a fine personal performance while stand-off Tim Smith also shone.

St Helens briefly hinted at a comeback when Paul Wellens crossed to pull his side back within 14 points with seven minutes left on the clock.

But Richards latched on to Sam Tomkins' kick through to make it two successive defeats for the Super League leaders.

Having suffered a 41-point loss against the same opponents in Cardiff last year, Brian Noble's side tore into an out-of-sorts Saints from the start.

606: DEBATE
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After just seven minutes Tim Smith's crossfield bomb invited Amos Roberts to outjump his opposite number and knock the ball down to Martin Gleeson who popped off for skipper Sean O'Loughlin to cross.

The high kick was a tactic that paid dividends throughout the match, but it was a more subtle grubber that opened up Mick Potter's men for a second time.

This time O'Loughlin turned provider as his kick through unleashed the pace of Richards, who left Ade Gardener trailing in his wake before touching down.

Second-rower Gareth Hock crashed over the top of Sean Long to make it three tries inside 30 minutes and spark a fierce inquest under the St Helens posts.

A stroke of luck combined with Long's diligent chasing gave St Helens their first score, as the scrum-half gathered his own kick after it caught a fortuitous deflection off Thomas Leuluai's foot.

The 32-year-old looked certain to add a second soon afterwards as he crashed through from Leon Pryce's pass, but a superb recovery tackle from Sam Tomkins hauled him back as the line loomed.

After his sibling's heroics in defence, Tomkins' older brother Joel then selected a sublime angle off Smith to slip through the defence and give his side an 18-point lead at the interval.

Some Wigan fans may have quietly been bracing for a St Helens backlash but their team's dominance continued after the break, as Richards added another goal before Hock's bullish run set up a fifth try.

Gardener was lured off his wing to reinforce the defence which, in turn, allowed Richards the space to outpace Long and ship inside for Leuluai to scamper home.

That score seemed to crush any lingering St Helens ambitions but Pryce, who had so far been successfully subdued by the Warriors' defence, suddenly provided a creative spark to reignite some faint hope.

A dummy threw the cover off-balance before a neat side-step took him inside the final defender and under the posts.

He then scooped up a bobbling ball in midfield and shipped it out wide where full-back Wellens shrugged off some feeble tackling to dot down and put them within three scores.

But an error off the subsequent kick-off gifted Wigan field position and Tomkins' nudge through was snapped up by Richards to ensure there was no escape for St Helens.


Wigan coach Brian Noble:

"In the first half, defensively, we were great and neutralised what they had, then posted some points.

"Our execution is improving week by week and we looked after the ball the best we have all season.

"We haven't had the best start to the season but I am delighted for the players. It is the kind of win they needed to set the season up. It puts us back in the mix for the rest of it."

St Helens coach Mick Potter:

"The other team were just far better than us today. They built some pressure on us and we burned a lot of energy trying to defend.

"They put some points on us and we were forever watching the game in our own half. A couple of players made a couple of errors and that was uncharacteristic.

"When you are always chasing points you tend to come up with more errors and you consequently give the other team an opportunity down your end."


Wigan: Phelps, Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards, Smith, Leuluai, Fielden, McIlorum, Coley, Hock, Bailey, O'Loughlin.
Replacements: Paleaaesina, J. Tomkins, Prescott, S. Tomkins.

St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Gilmour, Meli, Pryce, Long, Graham, Cunningham, Puletua, Ashurst, Flannery, Clough.
Replacements: Fa'asavalu, Hargreaves, Roby, Eastmond.

Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens).



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see also
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Salford 16-24 Harlequins RL
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