St Helens sweep Wigan aside and close in on League Leaders’ Shield

The St Helens coach Justin Holbrook watched his side move another step closer to a second successive League Leaders’ Shield courtesy of victory against Wigan – before stopping short on confirming whether he will remain as coach of the runaway Super League leaders next year.

Their comfortable success against their great rivals ensured a 20th win in 22 league games this season, and with Warrington’s defeat, it means the Saints are 10 points clear at the top with just seven games left. That makes finishing top a near-certainty for the Saints but what is far less certain is Holbrook’s future. He has been linked with a return to Australia next year, and while he has been offered a new deal by the club, he is yet to sign.

St Helens fans made their feelings clear over Holbrook afterwards by insisting they want him to stay, and he said: “It gets me emotional, seeing the fans chanting like that but there really is no update.” On the field, the Saints were far too good for the reigning champions, ending Wigan’s five-game winning run with another masterful display. By half-time they led 12-4 courtesy of two tries from Tommy Makinson, and when Lachlan Coote and Kevin Naiqama both followed suit in the 10 minutes after the restart, there was no way back for a Wigan side who have forced their way into play-off contention in recent weeks. “They’re the benchmark for sure at the moment,” was how Wigan’s coach, Adrian Lam, assessed the Saints.

To Wigan’s credit, the evening had threatened to spiral out of control when Jonny Lomax and two goals from the boot of Coote made it 32-4 before the hour mark but the Warriors stemmed the tide somewhat, preventing any further points being scored. They even crossed for their first – and only – try of the night when Zak Hardaker’s efforts yielded a well-deserved try for the fullback, but that was little more than a consolation score on another successful night for Holbrook and the Saints.

St Helens Coote; Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Bentley, Thompson, Peyroux, Knowles, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Interchange Smith, Amor, Ashworth, Lees.

Tries Makinson 2, Coote, Naiqama, Lomax. Goals Coote 6.

Wigan Hardaker; Marshall, Saringson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Navarrete, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, Smithies. Interchange Hankinson, Shorrocks, Byrne, Bullock.

Try Hardaker. Goals Hardaker 3.

Referee B Thaler. Attendance 17,088.

Roundup: Hull KR ease worries with victory at Leeds

The big game at the bottom of the table saw Hull Kingston Rovers ease their relegation worries with a crucial victory at Leeds Rhinos, who are not out of danger themselves yet. Leeds’ former hooker, Matt Parcell, was among the Robins’ scorers as they moved not only two points clear of bottom side London, but level on points with Leeds and Huddersfield in the fascinating four-way race to avoid relegation to the Championship.

Elsewhere, Huddersfield were beaten at home to Catalans, as a Sam Tomkins hat-trick helped the Dragons boost their play-off hopes with victory in West Yorkshire. The Dragons move above Wigan into fourth courtesy of their narrow 32-28 victory after withstanding a late Giants rally to return to Perpignan with two points, while Castleford are now level on points with the top five themselves following victory over local rivals Wakefield.

Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.

The Tigers won 36-16, with James Clare crossing for a hat-trick as Castleford extended their winning run against Trinity to thirteen consecutive matches. The night’s other big winners were Salford Red Devils, who won at second-placed Warrington for the second time this season to renew their own hopes of a play-off push. Krisnan Inu and Kris Welham were among their scorers as they won 22-12.

After charging down a St Helens kick with the hosts on top, Hardaker showed enough guile and pace to break free and ensure Wigan would avoid the ignominy of failing to score a try.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.