Barba Scores On Debut But Saints Downed

Saints' quest for a top four spot took a serious dent as they were downed 26-16 by Wigan at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Ben Barba scored on a first outing for the club but his side couldn’t overhaul a 14-0 deficit early in the first half.

The visitors got off to a perfect start when, on their very first set, Joe Burgess found a way down the left hand side and fed Oliver Gildart for the easiest of tries.

Seconds later, Ryan Morgan overran a pass and Gildart picked up the loose ball to cross again.

And it got better for the visitors as on 14 minutes George Williams tagged on a penalty after Kyle Amor failed to clear the ruck – a harsh one as the ball was played into him.

James Roby broke through on 16 minutes to set up a Jon Wilkin high kick – but Zeb Taia’s effort was chalked off because of Mark Percival knocked on.

But five minutes later, Barba made the sort of introduction the fans have been waiting for since he signed in May.

Morgan had bundled Joe Burgess into touch and from the scrum, Lomax found the former Dally M Winner on the outside and he put down under pressure.

The video referee taking an eon to give it.

Moments later, Saints should have scored again.

Percival scorched away on the left hand side and found Grace on his outside.

The winger went past his man his ease but with only fullback to beat, and with Lomax on his right, he opted to go round Sam Tomkins instead of picking the pass.

The chance going begging after an important cover tackle.

On 27 minutes, Willie Isa was lucky to stay on the field after he came in ‘third man’ on LMS’ standing leg – the second rower placed on report.

No penalty was forthcoming but on the very next play one did, and Saints almost went over in the corner.

Barba combined with Morgan on the right hand side – but the latter’s pass to Tommy Makinson ended up in touch.

Saints’ defence held firm to the next two Warriors’ attacks before another home chance went begging as the hooter sounded.

Holbrook’s men needed to score first in the second half if they had any chance of taking home the points.

Barba went close before Jonny Lomax chipped through early in the tackle count and was clearly obstructed – but nothing was forthcoming.

And as so often happens in sport, Wigan hit straight back – and it was a double whammy.

The ball was swept right and Gelling took a simple pass to cross in the corner.

Then, a minute later, Williams did the same to score on the far side.

Taia pulled one back with just over 20 to go and then some sublime handling saw Makinson go over on the far side.

Game on.

Morgan Knowles unlocked the defence on 63 minutes but Barba just couldn’t weight his last tackle kick for Grace to chase.

Saints then tried to work their way into another scoring position but found Wigan’s defence right on the money.

Tempers boiled over in the final stages as two scuffles broke out – Isa seeing yellow probably more than 50 minutes too late.

Match Summary:

Tries: Barba, Taia, Makinson
Goals: Percival (2 from 3)

Tries: Gildart (2), Gelling, Williams
Goals: Wiliams (5 from 6)

Penalties Awarded:
Saints: 5
Warriors: 8

HT: 4-14
FT: 16-26

REF: R Hicks

ATT: 15,248


37. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 28. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 7. Matty Smith; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 36. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 20. Morgan Knowles.
Subs: 8. Alex Walmsley, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 18. Dominique Peyroux.

1. Sam Tomkins; 35. Liam Marshall, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess; 6. George Williams, 7. Thomas Leuluai; 8. Frank-Paul Nuíuausala, 9. Michael McIlorum, 15. Tony Clubb, 14. John Bateman, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean OíLoughlin.
Subs: 16. Sam Powell, 17. Taulima Tautai, 20. Willie Isa, 28. Jack Wells.

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