Noble Encouraged by Performance

Wigan coach Brian Noble believes his side's battle against relegation gained further impetus despite Saturday night's 28-14 defeat by engage Super League leaders St Helens.

But Noble was greatly encouraged by another improved performance by his side which made Saints work for the win that lifts them six points clear of second-placed Leeds.

"I don't normally talk to the players straight after a match but I've just told them they've set the standard now," he said.

"We've been improving steadily and that was another step up the ladder.

"They showed plenty of character and the fans got a good local derby.

"We gifted them two tries from our errors and they are the best team in this competition by far. I'm really pleased with the effort, there are a lot of positives to build on."

It took St Helens until the 23rd minute to break the deadlock through centre Jamie Lyon, who scored the game's first try and kicked the first of six goals from seven attempts.

Winger Francis Meli swooped on a stray pass from Wigan skipper Sean O'Loughlin to grab another try before half-time, when Saints led 14-0, and they completed the double thanks to second-half tries from threequarters Ade Gardner and Willie Talau.

Wigan never gave up, though, and scored second-half tries through Pat Richards, Brett Dallas and Gareth Hock, to the delight of most of the 18,358 crowd at the JJB Stadium.

Noble, meanwhile, paid tribute to Australian youngster Michael Dobson, who debued on the back of just two training sessions.

Scrum-half Dobson, who turns 20 on Monday, was thrown in at the deep end following his arrival from Catalans Dragons and caught the eye with a clever kicking game.

"He added an element of composure and his kicking game was special," said Noble.

"He has a terrific head on young shoulders."

Meanwhile Saints Coach Daniel Anderson said: "We prepared for a tough game and we got a very tough game,"

"You've got to compliment the front rows, who bashed each other up all day.

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