|27th May 2006|| Super League||AWAY ||18358 ||(HT:14:0)|
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : Daniel Anderson celebrated one year in charge with his fifth consecutive derby victory as Saints re-established a 6 point cushion at the top of the engage Super League table. Jamie Lyon top scored with 18 points, while the core of senior players were again prominent in an excellent team display.
Wigan, meanwhile, lost further ground at the bottom, but will not have been disheartened either by Les Catalans’ defeat of Wakefield, or their own spirited performance.
Since losing their last away game, at Huddersfield three weeks ago, Saints have been in much better form, and they started dangerously at the JJB Stadium, going close in the opening five minutes.
Lee Gilmour raced down the left flank, only to be halted y a last-ditch tackle by full-back Chris Ashton. Then attention was switched to the right corner as Ade Gardner just failed to claim Sean Long’s high kick.
It was symptomatic of Saints’ efforts to use the full width of the wide pitch, with Willie Talau in particular proving to be a constant threat.
After the early onslaught was repelled, Wigan were able to steady themselves but couldn’t build pressure with the ball in hand, but were left to rely on the boot of new signing Michael Dobson.
Saints made the breakthrough after twenty minutes, when Jamie Lyon crashed through two defenders to score his first Super League try for two months.
He converted his own try before adding a penalty after a high tackle on Keiron Cunningham. In between Saints showed once again that defence is an integral part of their early-season success when Paul Wellens and Paul Sculthorpe combined to prevent Scott Logan grounding the ball.
After Sculthorpe was unable to hold Long’s pass with the line open following Willie Talau’s break – one of numerous they failed to convert into points throughout the game – they were handed a try when Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin threw out a blind pass that was anticipated by Francis Meli who cantered home to score.
It opened up a comfortable buffer at the end of the first half that was fully deserved on the balance of play.
However Wigan were rewarded for their purposeful start to the second half when Pat Richards squeezed in at the corner, after Saints had conceded one of several unnecessary penalties.
After Lyon slotted over his second penalty, Long capitalised on poor Wigan handling to race from inside his own half and, with Richards chasing him down, unselfishly passed to Gardner, who scored his 12th try in 14 Super League matches.
Gareth Hock crashed over from 10 metres to reduce the gap to 12 points with twenty minutes left but, while the second half was never comfortable, there were few anxious moments for the 5,500 Saints fans in attendance.
The victory was assured when Talau scored after Sculthorpe’s break had established the attacking position, and ensured that Brett Dallas’s late try was merely a consolation.
The only concern was Jon Wilkin being placed on report for a high tackle that, initially, wasn’t thought worthy of a penalty by the match officials.
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