St Helens inflicted a fifth successive Super League defeat on Wigan for the first time in 15 years in a rain-sodden derby to keep the pressure on the league leaders, Catalans.
Wigan continue to slide down the table after a promising start to 2021 in which they won their opening seven games. Since then they have exited the Challenge Cup and are in the midst of a terrible run of league form, compounded here with defeat at the home of their great rivals.
While they showed plenty of effort and endeavour in the second half, the reigning champions had assumed control of the contest by half-time, when they led 18-0 through a master-class in wet-weather rugby league. “The players are working hard to put things right every week and, with the effort we showed here, I’m confident there are good times ahead,” Adrian Lam, Wigan’s coach, said.
St Helens were led around the field thanks to an imperious display from their full-back Lachlan Coote, who scored 14 of their 18 points in the first half. It was his kick which led to the game’s opening try, scored by Regan Grace after Jake Bibby made the first of countless errors on a night dominated by the appalling conditions.
Coote then added back-to-back penalties, before waltzing through the Wigan line for a try of his own. He converted before adding another penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 18-0.
Wigan’s indiscipline also cost them at crucial junctures, with their young forward Kai Pearce-Paul sent to the sin-bin late in the first half. Willie Isa then followed in the first minutes after the restart for a dangerous tackle and, when Mark Percival marked his return with a wonderful solo try, there really was no way back for Wigan.
They got something for their efforts, though, when Liam Farrell crossed in the final quarter to avoid the ignominy of losing to nil in the derby. But this is a Wigan side now in danger of falling out of the play-off places – something which seemed unthinkable four or five weeks ago.