Saints seal third place
Wigan pay the penalty for first-half dismissal
By James Pearson. Last Updated: September 7, 2012 10:05pm
St Helens secured third place in the Super League table with a 26-18 triumph over 12-man Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
Shaun Wane's Warriors had to play the majority of the match a man light following Michael McIlorum's dismissal, a red card that cost the home side dearly not just for Friday's match but also possibly for the play-offs.
Saints now travel to Warrington in the first round while Wigan will face either Leeds or Catalan Dragons on home soil next,
Wigan opened the scoring when Thomas Leuluai, making his first start since June, fended off Tony Puletua to score from close range. Pat Richards added the extras to give the home side a 6-0 lead.
The Warriors were rocked, however, on 15 minutes when hooker McIlorum was given a straight red by referee James Child for a late and high shot on former Australia Test forward Anthony Laffranchi.
Saints made their numerical advantage count when James Roby touched down near the posts after a fine run from Jonny Lomax gave the visitors excellent field position. Tommy Makinson's conversion levelled the score.
The visitors forged ahead for the first time on the half hour mark when Makinson dived over in the corner following an excellent offload from Michael Shenton, the try-scorer also adding the extras.
Wigan forced two drop outs as the first half concluded, but Mike Rush's men withstood the late pressure to take a six-point lead into the interval.
The home side were able to get the ball over the line within minutes of the restart when Richards scored in the corner from Sean O'Loughlin's bullet pass, the winger superbly converting from the touchline.
The try lifted Wigan's enthusiasm and only some superb last-ditch tackling from St Helens denied Josh Charnley going over after the Cherry and Whites had capitalised on a turnover.
The video referee was called into action when substitute Andrew Dixon touched down following a neat break from Puletua. After closer inspection the try was awarded, but Makinson missed the chance to add the extras.
Wigan did not let their heads drop, though, and in front of a near capacity crowd Wane's men went in search of an equaliser, something which Richards went close to finding before being bundled into touch.
However, their hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow when Josh Jones went off after Wigan ran out of numbers as the pressure from the visitors finally told.
The destination of the points were confirmed when Lomax finished off another free-flowing move from Rush's men, Makinson adding the extras.
Wigan did have the final say when Sam Tomkins touched down on the full-time hooter, meaning Richards' conversation meant the score finished 26-18 to St Helens.