Widnes 12 Saints 20

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints coach Keiron Cunningham

Keiron Cunningham’s Saints got back to winning ways as they beat Widnes 20-12.

Saints were under pressure to pick up the two points on offer after being humbled by Wigan on Good Friday and they obliged.

The visitors did not have to over exert themselves against Widnes, who before the holiday break where sitting pretty at the top of the Super League table.

The Vikings, missing some key players, carded an anaemic display in front of their biggest crowd of the season, after drawing a blank against Warrington two days ago. They lacked energy and without their inspirational skipper Kevin Brown, were rudderless at times.

Saints were not hitting the top gears either, but it was enough to get past a Widnes side that looked a shadow of the team that demolished Hull FC in their previous home game.

This was the first time in the Super League era that Widnes went into the Easter campaign ahead of Saints in the Super League table, but Cunningham’s side clawed some of the deficit back with a workmanlike victory.

Saints took an early advantage after five minutes through Joe Greenwood, who had enough power to stretch out and score on Widnes’ left edge.

Luke Walsh goaled and that effort set the tone of the half as St Helens were well in control.

In-form Widnes full-back Rhys Hanbury replied for the Vikings with a burrow in from a few yards out. The diminutive Aussie added the extras to tie the scores, but it did not last for long.

Saints skipper Jon Wikin delivered a sublime short pass to Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook to burst onto and grab the visitor’s second of the afternoon.

Tommy Makinson stretched Saints’ advantage further as he dived in past his Vikings opposite number Pat Ah Van, who had a mistake-riddled first half to forget.

Cunningham’s side could have added a further try before the break but Widnes wing Corey Thompson intervened in just the nick of time as he knocked down a Theo Fages pass that would have seen ex-Viking Jack Owens collect a try against his old club.

Widnes were by no means out of it at half-time but the cutting edge that had been with them before Easter was alluding them.

They tried to rediscover their sparkle but Saints had the edge both in attack and defence.

They threw the heavy artillery at the Vikings in the shape of impressive props Alex Walmsley and Kyle Amor and they left the Vikings line with points, albeit two penalties from Walsh but they were inching themselves to a win at 6-20 with only 15 minutes remaining.

The Vikings were drinking in the last chance saloon, and when Thompson sprinted clear, the home supporters thought they had given themselves a flicker of hope but his pass to Joe Mellor was fumbled under pressure.

Hanbury did give Widnes a lifeline with nine minutes remaining as he sped over for his brace. His conversion put the Vikings within eight points, but it was too little too late.