Super League: Wigan Warriors 0-42 St Helens

By Matt NewsumBBC Sport at the AJ Bell Stadium
Alex Walmsley
Alex Walmsley scored for Saints, his ninth try of the season
Betfred Super League
Wigan (0) 0
St Helens (18) 42
Tries: Walmsley, Welsby 2, Grace 2, Knowles, Bentley Goals: Coote 7

St Helens moved top of Super League on points percentage with a derby victory over a much-changed Wigan Warriors side that included six debutants.

Saints' devastating three-try burst from Alex Walmsley, Jack Welsby and Regan Grace seized control of the game after a bright start by a novice Wigan.

Four second-half scores, from Morgan Knowles, James Bentley and seconds for Welsby and Grace, ensured a big score.

Wigan will now prepare for Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final with Leeds.

Defeats for Warrington and Wigan mean Leeds now climb above them into second.

Umyla Hanley
Wigan gave a debut to Umyla Hanley, the son of Wigan and Great Britain great Ellery Hanley

Despite the scoreline, there was much to be proud of for Wigan coach Adrian Lam, who also saw prop Jack Wells helped from the field with a painful-looking knee injury.

Wigan and Great Britain legend Ellery Hanley's son Umyla was one of the debutants, along with Sam Halsall, Canberra-bound Harry Rushton, James McDonnell, Kai Pearce-Paul and Ben Kilner, and that inexperienced line-up showed real character to keep Saints at bay for as long as they did.

However, with Saturday's Challenge Cup tie with Leeds looming, the reshuffle was necessity rather than design amid a punishing schedule.

Saints had their cup hopes ended by Warrington and were coming off a bye-week, so named a near full-strength side to face their bitter rivals.

Saints' star players delivered some special moments, particularly in the tries by Welsby and Grace, with perfect late cut-out balls from Jonny Lomax under pressure enabling them to bypass the Warriors' fierce defence.

The three key scores came with Halsall in the sin-bin for a shot on Lomax, while the Saints half-back's own yellow card was handled without concession.

They were made to work hard in defence against a trademark aggressive Wigan forward pack but were able to retain a precious zero on their scoreboard.

Wigan Warriors head coach Adrian Lam:

"Some of them haven't played for nearly 12 months and, when you take that into consideration, it was an incredible effort.

"They were gassed in the second half but I'm proud of their efforts.

"It was not the scoreline I was hoping for but I just want to take the positives out of it.

"I just wanted to see a team that's committed and I thought we did some really good stuff."

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf:

"It's difficult when you turn up and the team sheet has changed, it takes the sting out of the way you've prepared.

"We knew they were going to play the game of their lives and that it was going to be physical and they would try to chance their hand.

"That's why it was so pleasing that our blokes handled their enthusiasm and got on top.

"The best sign of our attitude was that we didn't allow them to score any points."

Wigan: Hanley; Halsall, Hankinson, McDonnell, Bibby; Smith, Ja. Shorrocks; Bullock, Bourouh, Byrne, Rushton, Greenwood, Wells

Interchanges: Clark, Flower, Kilner, Pearce-Paul

St Helens: Coote; Welsby, Naiqama, Simm, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Knowles, Bentley, Graham

Interchanges: Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Dodd

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)