St Helens open up gap in Super League

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St Helens gained revenge for their Good Friday mauling with a derby win at the home of the champions to open up a three-point gap at the top of the Super League.


Winger Tom Makinson, Super League’s leading try-scorer, touched down twice and skipper Paul Wellens scored his sixth try in five matches as Saints overcame the loss of influential halfback Luke Walsh to grind out a 16-12 victory in front of a 20,224 crowd.

Walsh went off after 21 minutes with a back strain but St Helens still condemned the below-strength reigning champions to a second consecutive defeat.

With both sides scoring three tries, Saints’ third-choice marksman Mark Percival succeeded with two of his three attempts while Wigan’s Matty Smith failed with all three.

Wigan, debuting teenage halfback Jamie Doran in the absence of seven first-choice players through injury and suspension, began with fullback Matty Bowen producing several threatening runs from deep which had the visitors back-pedalling.

They took the lead on eight minutes when winger Joe Burgess won the race to Sam Powell’s kick to the corner to claim his 16th try of the season.

Smith was unable to convert and Saints drew level midway through the first half when second-rower Mark Flanagan came up with a superb one-handed pass to get Makinson over for his 16th Super League try of the campaign.

With Lance Hohaia coming more into the game in Walsh’s absence, Saints went in front four minutes into the second half when Burgess failed to claim Jon Wilkin’s high kick and Wellens gathered the loose ball to go past Dan Sarginson to touch down to give Saints an 8-4 lead.

Wigan struck against the run of play to draw level.

A Bowen cut-out pass gave winger Josh Charnley space to cross for his side’s second try.

It was too far out for Smith to convert and Saints edged back in front on 63 minutes when Percival was successful with a penalty.

The pivotal moment came two minutes later when an offload from Samoan heavyweight Mose Masoe created space on Wigan’s left and Makinson took Jordan Turner’s pass to go past Sarginson and Bowen for his second try.