Wigan 0-42 St Helens: Regan Grace and Jack Welsby doubles help down young Warriors
Last Updated: 30/09/20 6:02am
Regan Grace and Jack Welsby doubled up as St Helens saw off a Wigan Warriors side containing six debutants in Tuesday's Super League derby clash.
Alex Walmsley's eighth try of the season put St Helens ahead, with quickfire scores from wingers Welsby and Grace while Sam Halsall was in the sin-bin putting the reigning champions into an 18-0 lead at half time.
Wigan's youthful side, which had an average age of just 22-and-a-half, continued to plug away valiantly after the break, but further scores from Morgan Knowles, James Bentley, Welsby and Grace, plus Lachlan Coote kicking seven out of seven conversion attempts, sealed a convincing win.
Warriors coach Adrian Lam opted to field something of a makeshift team with one eye firmly on Saturday's Cup semi-final against Leeds Rhinos and, although the youngsters battled bravely, there was never any doubt about the outcome.
Full-back Umyla Hanley, the 18-year-old son of all-time great Ellery, was one of the youngsters handed their debut by Lam, who made 20-year-old Harry Smith his captain for the night.
By contrast, with only the Grand Final to aim at, St Helens coach Kristian Woolf fielded his strongest team and they set off at a point a minute to rack up a lead which effectively ended the game as a contest.
St Helens handed a debut to hooker Lewis Dodd and brought in 19-year-old centre Josh Simm in the absence of England international Mark Percival, but it was veteran captain James Roby who proved to be the outstanding player.
England prop Walmsley gave his side the perfect start when he took Coote's pass to crash over for his ninth try of the season and the full-back kicked the first of his seven goals.
Wigan's impossible task was made even tougher on 13 minutes when winger Sam Halsall, one of the new faces, was sin-binned for a late tackle on Coote after he had kicked ahead.
Saints took advantage of the extra man within a minute as stand-off Jonny Lomax fired out a cut-out pass for Welsby to go over at the right corner for the first of his two tries.
A handling error near his own line by Hanley then gifted the champions another ideal attacking platform and they punished their 12-man opponents by working Grace over at the other corner for his first try.
Wigan's worries increased when loose forward Jack Wells limped off midway through the first half but the youngsters, perhaps taking a lead from their Warrington Wolves counterparts in the opening game, demonstrated great resolve to keep their line intact for the rest of the half.
However, the efforts began to take their toll in the second half as Saints maintained their intensity. Interchange prop Kyle Amor lost the ball going for the line but showed some nice hands shortly afterwards to get fellow Cumbrian forward Knowles through a gap for a try.
The Wigan defence then opened up invitingly for second rower Bentley to score his side's fifth try and, after soaking up pressure on their own line Saints broke upfield where Coote and Kevin Naiqama combined to get Welsby over for his second try.
St Helens were reduced to 12 men on 69 minutes when Lomax was showed a yellow card for a dangerous tackle but still managed to add a seventh try, with Wales international Grace sprinting away for his second.