St Helens 10 Tries: Gidley, Eastmond
Wigan Warriors 6 Tries: S Tomkins
Wigan Warriors went down 10-6 in a thrilling derby at the GPW Recruitment Stadium against St Helens on Friday night.
With the Warriors leading 6-4 a try from Kyle Eastmond with just two minutes left snatched the win for the home side.
Both sides were awesome in defence, Wigan gave everything and a try by Sam Tomkins just before half time which was goaled by Pat Richards seemed as if it would be enough to see Wigan home. It looked like a scoreless second half until Eastmond grabbed the try and headlines.
This was a real nip and tuck local derby, rain throughout made it difficult handling conditions with a greasy surface.
Wigan named the same seventeen that defeated Leeds Rhinos at the JJB Stadium last Friday; Phil Bailey failed a late fitness check. St Helens welcomed back to the side Paul Wellens from the team that were convincing winners at Harlequins.
Both sides looked for the early breakthrough, quick Wigan hands failed to find Roberts out wide and then at the other end a Flannery grubber kick had just too much power as the home side looked for an advantage.
The first points came on 9 minutes; a Wellens kick into space was seized upon out wide by Matt Gidley who touched down for the try. Eastmond missed the extras, 4-0.
The influential Kieron Cunningham was forced off soon after with an injury but returned later.
Wigan got themselves in a good position on 25 minutes after Saints were penalised for holding down in the tackle. Instead of opting for two points the Warriors decided to look for a try only for nothing to come of it.
As Saints threatened just a few metres away from the visitors try line, quick thinking by Thomas Leuluai at the play the ball saw the scrum half snatch possession. Saints kept on coming and Brian Noble’s men were tested in defence.
Wigan lost the services of Darrell Goulding just before the break with an arm injury, falling awkwardly in the tackle.
The Warriors could have grabbed a try in the last minute, Flanagan breaking away, his pass in field failed to find the supporting attack.
With the clock ticking and just seconds left a Leuluai kick was fumbled over the line and Sam Tomkins was the quickest to react to get a vital touch. Richards hit the goal and Wigan hit the front at the interval 4-6.
The second half was just a frenetic, end to end as both sides tried desperately to break through. Eastmond and Pryce trying to open up Wigan while Sam Tomkins and Leuluai kept looking for a breakthrough.
Saints spilled a great opportunity after failing to take the two points just a couple of metres out. With just 12 minutes left Lee Gilmour knocked on from a Pryce pass with the try line wide open.
The home side kept coming, a high kick, Roberts under pressure with just 8 minutes left was spilled but great scrambling defence by Mossop cleared the ball away dead.
With just two minutes left it was Kyle Eastmond who produced the skill to find a gap and dart over, pure momentum took the scrum half over. Eastmond himself added the extras to make it 10-6 and there was no time left for Wigan to respond.
The players gave everything in front of a vociferous travelling contingent of Wigan fans. The Warriors came desperately close to making it six wins in a row and with it their first win at Saints in six years, it just wasn't to be.
St Helens: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Matt Gidley, Lee Gilmour, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Kyle Eastmond, James Graham, Kieron Cunningham, Tony Puleta, Jon Wilkin, Chris Flannery, Andrew Dixon
Subs: Paul Clough, Matty Ashurst, Tom Armstrong, Jake Emmitt
Wigan Warriors: Cameron Phelps, Amos Roberts, Martin Gleeson, George Carmont, Pat Richards, Sam Tomkins, Thomas Leuluai, Andy Coley, Mark Riddell, Paul Prescott, Harrison Hansen, Joel Tomkins, Mark Flanagan
Subs: Darrell Goulding, Stuart Fielden, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Lee Mossop