By Ben Burrows - at the Etihad Stadium
A Sam Tomkins-inspired Wigan Warriors produced a devastating display to demolish bitter rivals St Helens in a bad-tempered affair at Magic Weekend.
The win for Wigan over Saints, which saw three men sent off, returned them to the Super League summit.
Having won six of their last ten against their old adversaries – including the Challenge Cup victory two weeks ago – the Warriors would have been in confident mood prior to kick off but few would have predicted the ease in which they took the Saints apart.
World-class fullback Tomkins was at heart of everything that Wigan did and he helped himself to two of Wigan’s eight tries.
It was an even first five minutes – both teams seemed to take their time to get used to the summer evening conditions.
Wigan broke the deadlock first with the mercurial Tomkins capitalising on a scything Brett Finch break. Josh Charnley – on kicking duties in the continued absence of Pat Richards – slotted the easy conversion.
Saints got a footing in the game after a high tackle call on Warriors prop Gil Dudson but Jon Wilkin’s reverse kick was just too strong.
Wigan responded and went further clear when Gareth Hock ran a strong inside shoulder line to career under the posts. Charnley’s extras made it 12-0 after 12 minutes.
And it was Charnley himself who was next on to the scoresheet with his 19th of the season after good handling from centre Darrell Goulding.
Three minutes later Tomkins was again at the centre of St Helens’ nightmares as an audacious show-and-go saw him race clear to outpace opposite number Paul Wellens to the corner.
Sean O’Loughlin was next to join the try scoring party after good interplay between him and Goulding left the Wigan skipper with an easy score.
After the first half hour you could forgive St Helens for being somewhat shell-shocked but they rallied and got their first points through replacement Paul Clough after good persistence from Jonny Lomax.
Just when Saints thought they finally had a foothold in the game Wigan hit back - Charnley pouncing on a well-weighted Goulding grubber to score his second of the evening.
There was no respite for Saints after the break as centre George Carmont piled on more misery with yet another try after a sensational 70m break.
A regulation scrum on 50 minutes descended into a 13-on-13 brawl resulting in Hock, Shaun Magennis and Chris Tuson all being dismissed from the field by referee Ben Thaler.
St Helens made their one man advantage count quickly when replacement prop Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook powered over after an excellent break.
Charnley added to the score with a 65th minute penalty goal after Tomkins was adjudged to have been the victim of a high shot near the Saints line.
That was followed in quick succession by a Liam Farrell score – the young forward profiting from a right-side break from Charnley.
Paul Wellens restored a small amount of pride for his team by touching down late on but derby day was all Wigan’s as they returned to Super League’s summit.