Sky Sports pundits Phil Clarke and Paul Sculthorpe believe the Wigan Warriors “lost intrigue” in Friday’s stormy 26-2 derby loss at home to arch enemies St Helens.
Steadfast in attack and poorly disciplined, Adrian Lam’s side collected more yellow cards than points as they failed to score a home tryout for the first time since arriving at DW Stadium in 1999.
John Bateman was sentenced twice, while Willie Isa also received a yellow card and was flagged following an incident with Jack Welsby which could see him miss Leeds Rhinos’ visit on Wednesday.
Ex-Wigan Clarke player said: “I said the Warriors need to have controlled aggression, but clearly Adrian Lam’s side didn’t have enough as there were several incidents.
“You have to be aggressive to play rugby league, but they didn’t do it well enough on Friday night.”
Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney suggested Wigan lost the plot and Clarke agreed, saying, “They did it.
“There were several incidents when they played in St Helens a few weeks ago, when they lost 24-6 and knew the game was over as a contest, and similar players made similar antics here. It really isn’t good enough.
Sculthorpe, the legendary former St Helens and Great Britain striker, said of Isa: “He lost the plot.
“I’m generally a fan of Willie Isa because I like his aggression, but it was completely out of control.”
Clarke thinks Isa could be sentenced to a lengthy suspension, saying, “I’m not sure the Match Review Panel can cumulatively add up all of a player’s indiscretions.
“But you suspect that Isa might not play for two, three, four, or maybe even five weeks if you add all of these indiscretions together.
“And he did the exact same thing in St Helens earlier this year.”
Wigan looked anything but title contenders against their fiercest rivals and a disturbing lack of creativity on offense sounded the alarm, leaving Lam visibly stunned by the final siren.
Clarke believes Wigan’s attacking problems run deep, adding: “The concern for Wigan is that this was the seventh game in the last 12 games where they played a 40-minute stretch and failed to score. just one point.
“Really, as good as you are, if you don’t score points you can’t win – the best you can hope for is a draw.”
Sculthorpe was equally damning of the Warriors’ display against the defending champions and believes their woes can be partly attributed to their lack of firepower up front.
“You couldn’t see any game plan and we said as we looked at it that they looked like a bunch of buddies who had come out onto the pitch and decided to play,” Sculthorpe said.
“To play rugby you have to come through the middle and I just think Wigan doesn’t have any penetration through the middle.
“The difference with the Saints is that when you host (Alex) Walmsley and LMS (Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook) and Matty Lees, they come in with intention.
“The Wigan pack, for me, just doesn’t have that intention, so when you’re playing sideways you’re playing on the back of a slow game and it’s tough against a good defensive team.”
Wigan saw George Burgess leave the club early in the season due to a serious injury and Sculthorpe believes the decision not to sign a replacement is hurting Lam’s side.
“I think so,” he added.
“There has been a lot of responsibility on people like Liam Byrne, Morgan Smithies and Oliver Partington.
“These are young successful guys and I still don’t know if these guys are ready.
“Maybe that’s why we need a reserve note – to give these guys more time to develop.
“Playing with older players would help develop their game.”