- Match Centre
A STIRRING second half performance wasn't enough as Saints went down 28-16 at Wigan.
Paul Clough, Francis Meli and Tommy Makinson all crossed in a rousing display - but the damage was done in the first 40.
Wigan led 18-0 at half time as they punished a number of Saints errors and took advantage of a disjoined effort from their opponents.
Their first try came off a penalty and the third a full length of the field effort from Josh Charnley after Saints were in the ascendancy.
A bigger effort was needed in the second half from the visitors and it came five minutes in with Paul Clough's first of the season.
Dom Crosby replied but Francis Meli added his eighth of the season to make it game on.
Tommy Makinson then took advantage of some fantastic offloading from Jordan Turner but Pat Richards wrapped it up at the end.
The scoreline probably reflected the game as a whole, but Saints youngsters have to be proud of their fightback.
It really was a case of 'down to bare bones' as Nathan Brown made a number of enforced changes for the visit to the DW Stadium.
Loanee Stuart Howarth started at hooker whilst Paul Wellens was switched to stand off.
That saw Tommy Makinson fill in at full back and Mark Percival make his second appearance of the season in the centres.
The bench had a familiar look about it though with Sia Soliola, Mark Flanagan, Paul Clough and big Alex Walmsley primed and waiting.
Saints got the game underway and won the ball back after a massive tackle - but Wellens couldn't make the pass count with Ade Gardner in space.
A couple of good defensive sets then rocked Wigan on their heels but the Warriors were ironically gaining the better field position on their opening sets.
And it was that good territory that put them in front. Tommy Makinson was penalised for offside and the ball went left for Pat Richards to cross.
The winger converting his score from the touchline.
Mark Percival tore Wigan apart on 19 minutes but as he came inside he just couldn't find a teammate.
In fact, although Saints looked livelier in attack it was Wigan who increased the lead further through Sam Tomkins.
Saints replied with three sets on Wigan's line moments later but failed to break a resolute defence.
And it was from another Saints' attack that the Warriors increased the lead.
On the last tackle Saints put in a number of a kicks but Charnley pounced on a loose ball and went the full length.
Richards converting to make it 18-0.
Francis Meli had one chalked off for a debateable forward pass as the half entered its final stages but Wigan went in three converted tries to the good.
Saints started the second half well - as they needed to - and won a repeat set before finally breaking the line.
Quick play the balls and strong runners overwhelmed Wigan and Paul Clough showed all his strength and experience to plough over.
Mark Percival with the extras.
The scoreline may have said different but Saints were on top at that point and had another chance moments later.
But on 56 minutes they couldn't cover the offloads and a great break and Dom Crosby got over after a fine ball from Blake Green.
Francis Meli pulled one back for Saints five minutes later to make it a 14 point game and his side then looked to turn the screw.
And their next try came from nothing. The ball was knocked back and picked up by Turner. He instantly took on the D, offloaded over his head to Meli and 30 yards later the winger fed Tommy Makinson for a cracking score.
Percival smashed the conversion over but with time ticking down Pat Richards clocked his second of the afternoon.
It was harsh on Saints who lost Gardner, Willie Manu and Anthony Walker in the game with other players obviously competing injured.
Tries: Richards (2), Tomkins, Charnley, Crosby
Goals: Richards (4 from 5)
Tries: Clough, Meli, Makinson
Goals: Percival (2 from 3)
REF: Richard Silverwood
1. Sam Tomkins; 2. Josh Charnley, 3. Darrell Goulding, 17. Iain Thornley, 5. Pat Richards; 6. Blake Green, 7. Matty Smith; 26. Dom Crosby, 9. Michael McIlorum, 15. Ben Flower, 16. Chris Tuson, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O'Loughlin.
Subs: 4. Jack Hughes, 21. Scott Taylor, 23. Logan Tomkins, 29. Greg Burke.
21. Tom Makinson; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Jordan Turner, 30. Mark Percival, 5. Francis Meli; 1. Paul Wellens, 12. Jon Wilkin; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 36. Stuart Howarth, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 19. Josh Jones, 13. Willie Manu, 27. Anthony Walker.
Subs: 4. Sia Soliola, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Paul Clough, 25. Alex Walmsley.