Super League: St Helens 12-4 Wigan – Two late tries stun 12-man Warriors

Receiving the ball on the fifth tackle wide out on the right as Saints defended a third straight set of six, last season’s Man of Steel tried his luck with a cheeky grubber kick.

It not only nutmegged Makinson, but it left him flat-footed as French had the pace to win the race and touch down – confirmed by the video referee.

Harry Smith just failed with his inswinging left-foot kick from the right touchline as it curled in nicely only to bounce off the right upright.

But things began to unwind for Wigan with the red card.

A regalvanised Saints pushed forward in a dramatic finale and went ahead nine minutes from time.

Lewis Dodd hung up a high left-foot bomb to the right flank and winger Makinson timed his leap just right to brilliantly catch and score.

Jonny Lomax put the conversion wide but, in their final attack two minutes from time, Hurrell barrelled his way over to send Saints top of the Super League table.

It not only ended Wigan’s unbeaten six-game start to the season in all competitions, it was a first defeat for the world club champions since their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by Hull KR eight months ago – and it also ended that 15-game Super League winning run dating back to 7 July last season when they lost at Wakefield.

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens:

“We didn’t expect anything different. There is a ferocity and chaos to these games. I don’t want to play against teams who are numerically disadvantaged – I love 13 against 13.

“When emotions are running high because of the importance of the game to both teams, it sometimes comes down to the finest margins.

“French’s try was a kick in the teeth because we were defending superbly but our response was really good.

“Tommy Makinson has been one of the best wingers, if not the best, in Super League for a long time but what I loved about was that defensively both he and Konrad Hurrell were excellent.”

Wigan head coach Matt Peet:

“Obviously we’re disappointed to lose any game, but particularly on a Good Friday, because it means such a lot to all our supporters.

“It was potentially a great day for them, and we’ve not quite delivered. But underlying that is some pride in certain aspects of our performance. We were pretty good for large parts.

“I get why the red card was given. He is in a difficult position and he’s carrying the ball at 100 miles an hour, so I’ve got no massive gripes with it.

“I’ve not watched it in really close detail, but you always know when they stay down and they have a look at it, there’s a chance.”

St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Bennison; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Clark, Lees, Whitley, Sironen, Knowles.

Interchanges: Mata’utia, Batchelor, Mbye, Wingfield, Davies.

Wigan: Field; Miski, Keighran, Wardle, Marshall; French, Smith; Byrne, O’Neill, Thompson, Isa, Farrell, Ellis.

Interchanges: Mago, Dupree, Leeming, Nsemba, Hill.

Sin-bin: Dupree (29).

Sent off: Byrne (64).

Referee: Chris Kendall.

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