Justin Holbrook hails St Helens' resilience after derby win over Wigan
Last Updated: 19/07/18 11:33pm
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook was beaming with pride after his side came out on top in one of the toughest games he has witnessed.
The Super League leaders overcame Wigan 14-6 in a defence-dominated clash at the DW Stadium to make it 13 wins in a row and pull 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Even without Ben Barba and Mark Percival, who have scored 39 tries between them so far in Super League this year, Holbrook's men had plenty of flair and demonstrated their resilience to condemn their arch-rivals to a first home defeat of the season.
"It definitely wasn't easy," Holbrook said. "It was one of the toughest games I've watched.
"Neither team gave an inch, there was big hit after big hit for 80 minutes, which showed the brutality of our game.
"They're a quality side and, although I know they had some troops out, they kept coming and it ended up as a cracking derby.
"It was as physical as you can get. We had to dig deep, for 20 minutes Wigan were on our line and we kept turning up."
Second rowers Dominique Peyroux and Morgan Knowles scored Saints' tries but the win was founded on another superb 80-minute effort from skipper James Roby.
"He was unbelievable," said Holbrook. "He was probably the difference between the two sides.
"I've never seen a player in the middle of the field make that many cover tackles. Everybody was struggling to move and he keeps going.
"Both sides were run off their feet and he was the one who kept going. He's a phenomenal player and we're so happy and grateful he's in our side. He was the difference tonight, he's in a class of his own."
Wigan will slip out of the top two if Castleford beat Huddersfield on Friday night but coach Shaun Wane was able to draw positives from their latest defeat.
"The best team won, without a shadow of a doubt," Wane said.
"They had the majority of the game but I'm really proud of our efforts. It was a typical derby. They got stuck into each other, there were injured bodies and blood everywhere, which is a great sign."
Wigan were without half a dozen senior players through injury and Wane revealed half-back Sam Powell was among several others who were unable to train all week while former St Helens second rower Joe Greenwood was rushed back from injury because of a player shortage.
"Our attack was a bit clunky but we've too many players who have not trained all week but needs must," Wane added.
"I can't stand losing this game but I'm alright with this one. We were pushing to the end.
"They're flying, a very confident team, though they've got some very good players missing as well."