Wane salutes spirited Warriors

Published: Friday 3rd April 2015 by The News Editor

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Wigan coach Shaun Wane spoke of his pride after watching his side maintain their remarkable Easter record with a hard-fought 12-4 win over St Helens in an absorbing Good Friday derby.

Including games either side of the traditional Easter double-header, the Warriors have now won 22 matches out of 22 since Wane joined the Super League coaching team, initially as assistant, in 2010.

“I’m really happy with that record,” said Wane, whose side go to Salford on Monday and then host Catalans Dragons a week later. “I want us to go 24 out of 24.”

Wigan made the perfect start with 21-year-old right winger Dom Manfredi, who is set to sign a new four-year contract, scoring inside the first minute after a charge-down.

But they had to wait until 10 minutes from time to finally break injury-hit St Helens’ brave resistance, with 20-year-old left winger Joe Burgess touching down George Williams’ grubber kick.

Defences reigned supreme in a no-holds-barred Grand-Final re-match and both sets of players were out on their feet long before the end.

“I’m very proud, I thought it was a great performance,” Wane said.

“It was a tough game and I thought it was refereed perfectly. You had both teams slugging into each other and he allowed it to happen.

“Both teams are busted and I thought both were equally matched. They stayed with us for a long time and that’s what made it enjoyable.

“Our defence really impressed me and to do it against a class team makes me really happy.”

Forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook scored Saints’ only try as they suffered a second successive defeat but there was no shame in this loss.

Coach Keiron Cunningham was forced to turn to a new half-back pairing in Jordan Turner and Lance Hohaia after skipper Jon Wilkin joined Travis Burns on the injury list after pulling a hamstring in training, and Paul Wellens limped off four minutes into the second half to prompt another re-shuffle.

“I thought it was a brilliant effort,” Cunningham said.

“We lose an in-form half-back in Travis Burns at Hull KR and then the day before the game we lose Jon Wilkin. We had no time to do anything as a team together, which is no excuse, a lot of other teams are in that situation.

“We were in the game for 70-odd minutes. We had a bit of a scratchy start and they got the charge-down and then there was the stick-in-the-mud kick for their other try but they didn’t really break our systems, which I’m really pleased about.

“It was a great derby game, Saints-Wigan are always super, they never seem to let us down.

“The boys are really stinging in the dressing room. A couple of bounces of the ball and it might have been a different game.

“I’ve got to be proud of them. Some of the forwards played massive minutes. I thought Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was just absolutely outstanding – he played in three or four positions. Our patched-up half-backs were great but a little bit of lack of experience hurt us at times.”

Wellens hobbled off with a recurrence of a hip injury while second-rower Joe Greenwood, just back from an elbow problem, was taken to hospital for an assessment of a lower-leg injury.

“It’s disappointing to lose another couple of players,” Cunningham said. “It seems like it’s every week. I might have to pull my boots on again.”

Cunningham confirmed that Wilkin will also miss Monday’s home game against Hull, along with scrum-half Luke Walsh who is continuing his rehabilitation from a broken leg and ankle injury.

“He’s not far off,” Cunningham said. “He’s training with us and he’s looking very good, There is a time frame he has to get to before the specialist clears him.

“It’s imminent and I wish it was Monday but it’s not.”

Published: Friday 3rd April 2015 by The News Editor

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