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Wigan maintained their unbeaten start to the Super League season as two tries from Bevan French helped to inflict a first defeat of 2021 on Castleford Tigers.
The two sides have been impressive in the opening month of the season but it was Adrian Lam’s side who emerged victorious despite a commendable effort from the Tigers, who look capable of lasting the pace in the title race this year.
French, who was outstanding at full‑back for the Warriors last year, was forced to make do with a role on the wing for his first appearance of the season, thanks to Zak Hardaker’s impressive early-season form in his absence.
French’s two tries were decisive as Wigan made it four successive wins to start the season. They led 12-8 at half-time, despite falling behind to an early try from Castleford’s Derrell Olpherts.
“I thought we were really resilient and courageous,” Lam said. “I’m really pleased for Bevan. He’s going to need a couple more weeks to get back to his sharpest form.”
After Olpherts’s early try, Hardaker responded with a well-worked finish to a move started by Harry Smith before Paul McShane put the visitors back in front with a penalty. French’s first score ensured Wigan led at half‑time, though, with the Australian finishing a well-worked move out wide.
Castleford then levelled with Olpherts’s second, before French followed suit as a magnificent kick from Jackson Hastings found the winger unmarked in the corner to put the Warriors head once again.
From there, Lam’s side had the defensive resilience to close out victory. They kept the Tigers at bay defensively before Sam Powell added another Wigan try in the dying moments. Castleford played their part in an entertaining contest, and they look as though they could last the pace this year in Daryl Powell’s final season at the club.
Hardaker added the conversion and, while a winning margin of 10 points was perhaps harsh on Castleford, the Warriors were worthy winners
Saints hold on for another win against Huddersfield
St Helens coach Kristian Woolf insists his team has “a lot of improvement in us” despite recording their fourth win of the season with a tight 18-10 victory away at Huddersfield. The reigning champions remain unbeaten thanks to tries from Theo Fages, Mark Percival and Jonny Lomax.
Lachlan Coote’s bomb was taken in the air by Welsby and his brilliant one-handed offload was snapped up by Fages to score. Coote added the extras to put the visitors 6-0 ahead early. In the 36th minute, a smart kick from Percival forced a goal-line drop-out and the pressure finally paid off when the centre exploited an overlap on the right in the next set to cross untouched. Coote nailed the conversion to make it 12-0 at half-time.
Shortly after the break Chris McQueen crossed for the home side, but 18 minutes from time, a smart dummy-half run from Saints’ substitute Lewis Dodd set up Lomax for a try. Coote added the extras to give the visitors to an 18-4 lead. A converted Jermaine McGillvary effort nine minutes from time brought the deficit down to eight points, but St Helens held on.
Woolf added: “We know that we’re going to get better with the ball. I was a bit disappointed with the two tries we let in.” PA Media