Wigan 10-36 St Helens: Saints too strong for sorry Wigan
Last Updated: 20/04/19 7:47am
A hat-trick of tries from Regan Grace was the highlight of St Helens' impressive 36-10 demolition of Wigan in the Good Friday derby at the DW Stadium.
A season's best attendance of 22,050 witnessed a Betfred Super League game that marked the retirement of Sky Sports rugby league commentator Eddie Hemmings after 30 years in the job, and perfectly summed up the current contrasting fortunes of these two modern greats.
While Saints followed up their opening-day victory at the Totally Wicked Stadium to go four points clear at the top - following Warrington's shock home defeat by Salford - the season goes from bad to worse for the reigning champions, who are level on points with bottom club London Broncos.
Adrian Lam's men now trail their arch-rivals by 14 points after equalling the worst start by a reigning champion, set when Leeds won just three of their first 11 games in 2016.
To compound their misery, Wigan, who lost centre Dan Sarginson to a leg strain before kick-off, had two players carried off by stretcher.
Winger Tom Davies went off midway through the first half with a suspected double leg fracture, and half-back Jake Shorrocks was taken off two minutes from the end following a tackle that brought a yellow card for St Helens second rower Dom Peyroux.
Captain James Roby gave the visitors the perfect start, dummying his way over for a trademark try after five minutes following one of several strong bursts from Peyroux.
They suffered a blow when England centre Mark Percival went off with a hamstring injury inside 10 minutes and replacement Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was unable to prevent full-back Zak Hardaker going over for Wigan's first try a minute later.
Wigan then demonstrated the worst of their defence as stand-off Jonny Lomax shrugged off a series of attempted tackles to get Grace over for his first try to increase Saints' lead to 10-4.
That prompted the introduction of O'Loughlin on 25 minutes, but Saints went further ahead with a Lachlan Coote penalty.
The Warriors had all sorts of difficulty trying to contain England prop Luke Thompson, who was held up over the line early in the game and showed a nice turn of speed to get Coote racing for the line.
A tremendous last-ditch tackle from Joe Burgess denied Coote but Roby's smart work at the play-the-ball enabled Grace to score his second try and Coote kicked his third goal to make it 18-4.
A try out of the blue just before half-time from stand-off George Williams, who showed blistering pace to finish off a break by Oliver Gildart, briefly got Wigan back in contention but it was largely one-way traffic in the second half.
Winger Tom Makinson finished off a sweetly-worked move at the corner, Grace completed his hat-trick and, as Wigan tired, Coote piled the agony with an opportunist try, to go with his six goals.