St Helens 12 Widnes Vikings 10

Try scorer Jordan Turner in action against Widnes
Try scorer Jordan Turner in action against Widnes

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham hailed his side's defensive effort as they notched a third straight win with a last-gasp 12-10 Super League triumph over neighbours Widnes.

The scores were locked 10-10 until the Vikings were penalised for a high tackle on Jonny Lomax eight minutes from time, and Saints sealed a thrilling victory thanks to Mark Percival's penalty.

"Both sides probably deserved something out of the game," Cunningham said.

"Widnes took the second half but we hung in there to win it with that goal in the end.

"It was a character-building performance and it's about time we had a bit of luck.

"Lloyd White had a great game for Widnes, who played really well. For large portions of the second half, we had to defend on the back foot.

"We had a lot of kids out there, which is very good for the future."

Saints led 10-6 at the interval with tries from Jordan Turner and Matty Fleming, Percival converting the latter.

Widnes' tries came from Corey Thompson and Patrick Ah Van before Matt Whitley was penalised for a high shot on Lomax.

Cunningham praised Lomax for his defence, saying: "He's into week nine of his comeback and we always said it would take 10 weeks to hit the full straps.

"He wasn't quite clinical enough with the ball but his defence was outstanding.

"It wasn't a pretty game but the boys can be proud of their effort even though we weren't quite as fluent as in the last two games."

The result left the visitors still needing a point to be mathematically certain of a top-eight place, but coach Denis Betts, who lost Gil Dudson with an ankle injury, was pleased with his side's effort.

He said: "it was a full-blooded contest and a real tussle.

"Matt Whitley told me he caught Jonny high and it was his footwork that caused the tackle.

"We were on the end of a couple of tough calls but it was a really good rugby league game.

"They were desperate but we defended really well and are massively disappointed because I thought we did enough to win.

"We started poorly but our effort and energy was really high and we are showing we are a tough team to beat."