St Helens 48 v 10 Wigan Warriors
|MATCH NOTES : Keiron Cunningham made his 350th appearance for St. Helens|
MATCH REPORT : Even the demands of a local derby did little to distract Saints from the job in hand of stretching their unbeaten run to ten matches with a convincing eight-try performance.
The performance, which was described by coach Daniel Anderson as �patchy�, showed the current gulf between the neighbouring clubs, which is most clearly demonstrated by the Super League table.
In truth the game lacked the intensity of a Saints-Wigan derby, and instead had the feeling of a �top v bottom� match, especially once Saints established a commanding 12-0 lead which laid the platform for a routine victory.
Paul Sculthorpe opened the scoring on eight minutes with his first try in nine months, and Paul Wellens crossed after Jamie Lyon�s break.
It created a cushion that meant that the chances of a shock Wigan victory became even more remote.
Saints carved out several chances, but lacked the fluency to finish the moves off. Sean Long and Leon Pryce both launched counter-attacks that ultimately came to nothing, Ian Hardman was knocked into touch as he tried to touch down in the corner, and Wellens had a try harshly disallowed for a knock-on in the build-up.
Eventually Saints did increase their lead, Pryce breaking through on the fringes before he slipped the pass to Long to score.
The Saints scrum-half could have scored his second in the opening minutes of the second half after fantastic work by James Graham, but he lost his footing in the style of Devon Lock.
It only delayed the inevitable, with Ade Gardner crossing for his eleventh try of the season after Saints shifted the ball to the right.
24-0 up, Saints were in complete control, but a missed tackle by Hardman on Chris Ashton on halfway gave the winger enough space to sprint home. Pat Richards nearly added a second for the visitors, but the video referee surprisingly ruled it out for a knock-on.
Saints then warded off any chance of a fightback with four tries in twelve minutes, for the scoreboard to reflect the balance of the game.
Ian Hardman became Saints� seventeenth tryscorer in 2006 when he scored from Long�s crossfield kick, then Hooper crossed twice and Pryce touched down as Saints threatened to overwhelm the Warriors.
Instead the fifty-point barrier remained tantalisingly out of reach, and Wigan were able to claim the final try, as Jordan James ensured that Wigan became only the second team to come to Knowsley Road and get into double figures.
The most notable statistic of the day belonged to Keiron Cunningham, who made his 350th appearance for Saints, which was marked by a guard of honour from his teammates.
Saints: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Ian Hardman, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Paul Anderson, Keiron Cunningham, Jason Cayless, Paul Sculthorpe, Jon Wilkin, Jason Hooper.
Subs: Maurie Fa'asavalu, James Graham, James Roby, Vinnie Anderson.
T: Hooper (2), Sculthorpe, Wellens, Long, Gardner, Hardman, Pryce.
G: Lyon (8/8)
Wigan: Dennis Moran, Chris Ashton, David Vaealiki, Pat Richards, Brett Dallas, Danny Orr, Mick Higham, Jerry Seu Seu, Wayne Godwin, Bryn Hargreaves, Tim Jonkers, Jordan James, Sean O'Loughlin.
Subs: Darrell Goulding, Joel Tomkins, Eamonn O'Carrolkl, Oliver Wilkes.
T: Ashton, James.
G: Richards (1/2)
Referee: K Kirkpatrick
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