Super League: Wigan Warriors 12-4 St Helens
|First Utility Super League|
|Wigan (6) 12|
|Tries: Manfredi, Burgess Goals: Smith, Hampshire|
|St Helens (4) 4|
|Tries: McCarthy-Scarsbrook Goals:|
Wigan upset this season's Super League formbook as they avenged last season's Grand Final defeat by St Helens to win the annual Good Friday derby.
Winger Dom Manfredi's early converted try gave the Warriors a flying start.
Saints replied when loose forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook then crossed to reduce the arrears to 6-4.
In a brutal, low-scoring classic, there was no further score for almost an hour until Joe Burgess went over to settle the contest on 71 minutes.
Ryan Hampshire converted, just as Matty Smith had improved Manfredi's second-minute try. But Tommy Makinson was unsuccessful with his only shot at goal for the injury-hit visitors.
On the back of last week's 24-22 defeat at Hull KR, Saints suffered their second straight defeat to drop two points behind lunchtime victors Leeds, while Wigan climb to third ahead of Monday's trip to Salford.
|Wigan keep up unbeaten home record|
|Wigan have lost three games this season - at Hull KR, Castleford and Leeds - but they have won all their home Super League games.|
|In the defence of their title, Saints had won every league game up until losing their 100% record at Hull KR - but have now lost back to back.|
Wigan, still smarting from last season's red-card-scarred Grand Final defeat at Old Trafford, have experienced a patchy start to the new season.
But they had not lost in front of their own fans in nine months, since last season's 16-12 home defeat by Saints.
And, a week away from Ben Flower's expected return to action after suspension following his sending-off in the Grand Final for punching Lance Hohaia, Wigan made an explosive start in front of the capacity crowd, scoring in only the second minute.
Saints centre Jordan Turner's kick was charged down, bouncing kindly for Manfredi who had come in off his line and the young winger galloped 15 yards to flop over, Saints old boy Matty Smith adding the extras.
The visitors were back in the game on 17 minutes when a video decision showed that McCarthy-Scarsbrook had got the ball down from a close-range surge to the line.
That was to be the last score of a bruising, at times overheated, rain-soaked first half in the Wigan mud.
And, four minutes into the second half, Saints coach Keiron Cunningham was forced to turn to a new half-back pairing in Turner and Lance Hohaia, after Paul Wellens limped off, skipper Jon Wilkin having joined Travis Burns on the injury list after pulling a hamstring in training,
But the second half proved to be similarly thrill-a-minute stuff as the contest went another 54 minutes before the scoreboard operator was troubled again.
In the almost deafening din created by the DW Stadium crowd, youngster Greg Richards failed to hear the fifth tackle call to give Wigan another set of six from a handover deep into Saints territory. And, from George Williams' cute kick to the left corner, Burgess kept his cool to touch down just inside the whitewash.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane:
"I'm very proud. I thought it was a great performance.
"It was a tough game and it was refereed perfectly. You had both teams slugging into each other and he (Phil Bentham) allowed it to happen.
"Both teams are busted. Both were equally matched. They stayed with us for a long time and that's what made it enjoyable.
"Our defence really impressed me. To do it against a class team makes me really happy."
St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham:
"It was a brilliant effort. We lose an in-form half-back in Travis Burns at Hull KR and then the day before the game we lose Jon Wilkin. We had no time to do anything as a team together.
"We were in the game for 70-odd minutes. We had a bit of a scratchy start and they got the chargedown and then there was the stick-in-the-mud kick for their other try but they didn't really break our systems, which I'm really pleased about.
"It was a great derby game, Saints-Wigan are always super. They never seem to let us down. But the boys are really stinging in the dressing room. A couple of bounces of the ball and it might have been different.
"I've got to be proud of them. Some of the forwards played massive minutes. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was just absolutely outstanding - he played in three or four positions."
Wigan: Hampshire; Manfredi, Gelling, Sarginson, Burgess; Williams, Smith; Clubb, McIlorum, Mossop, J Tomkins, L Farrell, Bateman.
Replacements: Tautai, Patrick, L Tomkins, Sutton.
St Helens: Wellens; Makinson, Dawson, Jones, Swift; Turner, Hohaia; Amor, Roby, Walmsley, Greenwood, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson.
Replacements: Masoe, Richards, Flanagan, Savelio.
Referee: Phil Bentham (RFL).