MATCH REPORT – Wigan 29 – 18 St Helens

Wigan made it eight Good Friday derby wins in a row with a 29-18 victory over St Helens. The game was nicely poised at 0-0, with both teams threatening in attack when Kyle Amor got sent off. That, naturally altered the game massively and probably ended any real chance of St Helens winning the game.

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On the tackle, at full speed it looked like a red card – no questions asked. However, when you see the replay, it is probably a yellow card at best due to the tackle starting lower down, Amor’s arm hitting the ball and then onto Marshall’s head. St Helens played very well however with 12 men, Regan Grace, who terrorised Wigan’s reserves last month at Robin Park looks to be a very good ball runner and caused Wigan plenty of problems – scoring a try late on also. The sending off changes the game so that Wigan are under pressure to score and take advantage of the extra man and probably play a bit more expansively than normal and likewise for Saints; they had nothing to lose, so threw the ball around and scored 18 points. Matty Smith didn’t have a great game on his return, kicking out on the full and a couple of handling mistakes.

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From Wigan’s point of view, having O’Loughlin and Liam Farrell back in the same side made a huge difference; Farrell has a good record in big games and Friday was no exception – Wigan’s left edge looked very strong with Farrell back in there. The calming influence of Leuluai and O’Loughlin through the middle certainly helped to keep Wigan composed and in turn, score 29 points. George Williams, again had another good game in the week in which he signed a new four deal at the club – his link up play with Joe Burgess is absolutely incredible. They are on the same wavelength and every time a kick goes through the line towards Burgess, it seems to result in a try.

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Morgan Escare had another solid performance both in attack and defence; his decision to go for the drop goal to extend Wigan’s lead to seven points also shows his development and confidence in the side. After the game, it was announced that he signed a new four-year deal at the club – rounding off a wonderful week to be a Wigan fan. Escare has soon become a fans favourite and it’s great to know that he has been rewarded with a long contract.

All in all, a good win in strange circumstances with St Helens going down to 12 men but the win is all that matters on derby day. Wigan now move on to face Wakefield on Monday and then return to the DW next Sunday to face Catalan. If Wigan can win those two games, which will be difficult in such a short turnaround, with the returning bodies – the top two will soon be in sight again. As for St Helens, they face top of the table Castleford next …

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