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The champions, Wigan Warriors, had a local derby against last seasons league leaders St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium to herald the start of the 2019 Betfred Super League season. Despite arctic conditions, the endeavours of the ground staff meant that the game was never in doubt, and the stands were packed in anticipation.

New Cherry & Whites boss Adrian Lam was dealt a blow on Wednesday when his side were docked two league points for a 2017 salary cap breach. But it was something else that he could use as motivation as a somewhat changed side looked to get their season off to a winning start.

St Helens came into the game as pre-season favourites to go all the way to Old Trafford and lift the Super League trophy, but the promise of a long season stretched out in front of both teams.

There were just ninety seconds on the clock when Kevin Naiqama stamped his debut credentials shrugging his way out of two tackles to roll over the line and ground one-handed. Mark Percival slotted the conversion over the uprights for the perfect Saints start.

On fourteen Saints doubled their lead with a passing move that ripped apart the Wigan defence, Jonny Lomax on hand to take a Dominique Peyroux pass and go the last twenty to score by the left upright. It was a simple conversion for Percival for a 12-0 lead.

Tommy Makinson grounded the ball on the corner flag on twenty-three after another Saints break downfield and after a head clash with Lomax in the build up, Tony Clubb was helped from the field.

Wigan opened their account on twenty-seven after receiving a penalty for obstruction. Ben Flower hit the ball at pace to crash over from five metres to ground under the crossbar. Zak Hardaker added the conversion, Saints lead cut to six points.

Four minutes before the break Liam Marshall intercepted a Lachlan Coote pass just ten metres from his own line and went the length of the field to dive over for Wigans second. Hardaker kicked the conversion and the two sides were tied up as we headed towards half time in a pulsating season opener.

Ten second half minutes had elapsed before Saints once again hit the front, thanks to a flying effort from Regan Grace, grounding one handed while horizontal in the air by the left corner flag. Percival was unable to add the extras from wide on the touchline.

Great defence from Saints, and some panic football from Wigan, denied the Warriors a third try and when James Roby scooted from acting half-back he sealed the points seven minutes from time as he dived over under the sticks. Percival added the extras for 20-12.

It was a terrifically competitive season opener, edged by a slightly more fluid, calm and collected St Helens. The Warriors showed plenty of promise after a number of changes in playing staff and style but they are far from the finished article. Both sides showed little early season rustiness, despite the freezing conditions. Super League XXIV is up and running and if this is a indication of the season ahead then we are in for a belter.

Saints: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama (T), Percival (3G), Grace (T), Lomax (T), Fages, Walmsley, Roby (T), Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Knowles.  Subs: Paulo, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lees.

Warriors: Hardaker (2G), Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall (T), Williams, Leuluai, Navarrete, Powell, Flower (T), Greenwood, Farrell, O’Loughlin.  Subs: Clubb, Isa, Hamlin, Bullock.

Referee: Robert Hicks.

Half-Time: 12-12.

Full-Time: 20-12.

Attendance: .



Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 31st Jan 2019 9:30 PM | Views : 2272 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES
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