Kristian Woolf praises his side's toughness after victory over Wigan

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf praises his side’s toughness after derby victory over Wigan… as defending champions open up two-point gap at top of Super League

  • St Helens coach Kristian Woolf has praised his side’s toughness after Friday 
  • Defending Rugby League champions beat Wigan 22-4 in big derby clash 
  • Merseyside club have opened up a two-point gap at top of Super League table 

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf praised his team’s toughness as they came from behind to gain a 22-4 derby victory over Wigan and open up a two-point gap at the top of the Super League table.

The defending champions lost loose forward Morgan Knowles with a head knock after eight minutes and had two tries contentiously disallowed before falling behind to a try from Warriors’ in-form full back Jai Field.

But they eventually cut loose and ran in tries from Tom Makinson, Jonny Lomax, Joe Batchelor and Mark Percival as they cruised to a ninth win in the last 10 derbies.

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf has praised his side for their performance against Wigan

‘Every team wants to be physical against us at the start and what I love about this group so much is that they absorb that and hang in,’ said Woolf.

‘A lot of things didn’t go our way but we played tough. I found both calls that went against us really hard to take, but we didn’t allow that to frustrate us. We stuck to our guns and took our opportunities.

‘We also left some points out there with the missed conversions, which makes it a great performance.’

The only disappointment for Woolf’s men was the injuries to Knowles and scrum-half Lewis Dodd, who hobbled off 16 minutes from the end.

St Helens’ Tommy Makinson converts during the Super League match on Friday

Woolf said winger Jon Bennison recovered from a ‘crusher’ tackle by Sam Powell but believes the Wigan hooker ought to have received a more hefty punishment than a yellow card for the offence. ‘It is the kind of tackle we need to get out of our game,’ said Woolf. ‘I’m not sure why it wasn’t a red card.’

Wigan coach Matt Peet said Powell was full of remorse and expects him to receive a suspension.

The visitors have dropped to third after their second defeat of the season and Peet knows where his side must improve if they are to catch up with the champions. ‘We started well but we didn’t take our opportunities,’ he said. ‘When St Helens created them, they took them.

‘We were in decent shape at half-time but they were much better in the second half. We need to be more consistent and clinical.’

St Helens’ James Bell is tackled in front of a sellout 17,980 crowd at the Totally Wicked stadium

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