St Helens gave one of their best performances of the season tonight, defeating Wigan 40-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium to become the first club to reach Old Trafford under the revised play-off format.
Wigan will now face Salford Red Devils next week in the final eliminator game at the DW Stadium.
St Helens took the lead after only five minutes when Theo Fages touched down a Lachlan Coote grubber, with Coote adding the conversion.
And they extended their lead soon afterwards when Kevin Naiqama intercepted a pass from George Williams to run 50 metres to touch down, with Coote again converting and then adding a penalty on 15 minutes to make it 14-0.
Wigan replied against the run of play, however, when Zak Hardaker and Chris Hankinson created the space for Liam Marshall to touch down, with Hardaker’s goal making it 14-6.
Saints hit back, however, when Luke Thompson took James Roby’s pass and blasted through the Wigan defence to score, with Coote making it 20-6.
And St Helens were in again when Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner Jonny Lomax got over the line six minutes before the interval, with Coote’s conversion giving Saints a 26-6 lead at half-time.
Saints pressed home their advantage in the second half with tries from Zeb Taia and Mark Percival, neither of which could Coote convert, but it game St Helens a 34-6 lead on 60 minutes and Wigan were fighting a hopeless cause.
And that was emphasised when Percival stormed over for his second try from Coote’s pass, with the Aussie fullback adding the goal to complete a wonderful night for Saints, with their coach Justin Holbrook having coached his last home game.
Wigan had a late consolation with a try in the corner by Bevan French, but there is a lot to think about for Wigan coach Adrian Lam in preparing for Salford’s visit to the DW Stadium.
Saints: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Dominique Peyroux, Morgan Knowles; Subs: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Jack Ashworth, Aaron Smith
Tries: Fages, Naiqama, Thompson, Lomax, Taia, Percival 2 Goals: Coote 6
Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Liam Marshall, Chris Hankinson, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, George Williams, Thomas Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, Oliver Partington, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin; Subs: Ben Flower, Liam Byrne, Morgan Smithies, Bevan French
Tries: Marshall, French Goals: Hardaker 1
A full report, photos and analysis from this game will feature in Monday’s League Express.