Saints fell to an 18-6 defeat to Wigan Warriors in a battle of the forwards at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night.
Kick off was delayed due to traffic issues affecting the opening game at the Totally Wicked Stadium, but both teams came flying out of the blocks in a ferocious early battle.
The first 15 minutes saw an end to end dog fight with both teams defending well and forcing big tackles from both sets of defences.
The competition hotted up, with tempers flaring on numerous occasions, but it was Saints who struck first; Jonny Lomax with a brilliant dummy turning two defenders inside out, before finding the supporting Lachlan Coote on his inside to touch down under the sticks. Coote converted from his own try, to give Saints a 6-0 lead after 31 minutes.
But Wigan responded four minutes later as Zak Hardaker’s grubber kick wasn’t dealt with by Lomax and Jake Bibby capitalised to score in the corner. Hardaker missed the conversion, leaving Saints ahead at the break.
Lomax came closest for Saints in the second half , but Wigan took the lead for the first time in the game in the 54th minute through Tommy Leuluai. Regan Grace knocked on and Leuluai took advantage on the next set with a powerful run through several Saints challenges to score. Hardaker missed a simple conversion, but Wigan led 8-6.
Dangerman Bevan French then went over for Wigan in the 66th minute. A pass which looked forward unleashed French and he raced down the wing to score. Hardaker missed the conversion again, leaving the score at 12-6 to the Warriors.
Despite both packs going at it again, with Saints missing the suspended Alex Walmlsey, the Warriors scored three minutes later; Jackson Hastings received an offload, before dummying and powering over the line in the left corner. Hardaker converted to extend the lead to 18-6.
The last 10 minutes were very scrappy and feisty with Wigan’s Joe Greenwood being sin binned for a high tackle on Matty Lees which caused tempers to fly. However it was Wigan who replaced Saints at the top.
Saints 13: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Jack Welsby, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, James Graham, James Roby, Matty Lees, Zeb Taia, James Bentley, Morgan Knowles.
Interchanges: Dominique Peyroux, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Joseph Paulo.
Try: Coote (30)
Wigan 13: Bevan French, Jake Bibby, Zak Hardaker, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Jackson Hastings, Tommy Leuluai, Joe Bullock, Sam Powell, Brad Singleton, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Oliver Partington.
Interchanges: Tony Clubb, Ben Flower, Joe Greenwood, Morgan Smithies.
Try: Bibby (34), Leuluai (54), French (66), Hastings (70)
Half time: 6-4
Full time: 6-18
Referee: Chris Kendall