Richards opened the scoring after eight minutes and ended Saints' fightback with his second try eight minutes from the end to clinch the win that knocked Catalan Dragons off the top of the Super League table.
"I thought Pat Richards was far and away our best player. He's been consistently fantastic for us this year," said Wane. "He's in our leadership group and leads the team well. The way he played today was really impressive."
England duo Sam Tomkins and Josh Charnley were also among the tries, along with 22-year-old prop Dom Crosby, who underlined his rich promise in the absence of four senior front-rowers through injury.
Although Wigan led 18-0 at half-time, Wane was unimpressed by his side's performance and warned his players to prepare for a St Helens fightback.
"The 18 points didn't register in my head," he added. "I wasn't happy at half-time. We should have been a lot more clinical with our finishing.
"I said at half-time 'it's nil apiece' because they were never going to be dead and buried. We showed a lot of character but we were far from at our best. We made too many errors."
St Helens struck back after the break to set up an exciting finish with the aid of tries from Paul Clough, Francis Meli and Tom Makinson, but coach Nathan Brown was unhappy with his team's defence in his first Wigan-Saints derby.
"The effort and commitment was terrific but we let ourselves down with our defence, especially in the first 15 or 20 minutes," he said. "I thought offensively we stretched them plenty in the second half but the most disappointing aspect was our defensive performance.
"It was an enjoyable occasion. It's great to hear all the fans singing and the way both sets of supporters get into the concept. But it's two points at the end of the day."
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- Catalan Dragons