Super League: Denis Betts has no complaints at red card shown to Ben Cross
Widnes coach Denis Betts felt his side matched St Helens while the two teams were still at full strength.
Last Updated: 10/02/13 6:41pm
The game was firmly in the balance at four points apiece after an hour when Vikings prop Ben Cross was shown a red card for a high shot on Saints full-back Paul Wellens.
Hooker Jon Clarke was also given 10 minutes in the sin bin for his part in the mass brawl that was sparked by the tackle, leaving the hosts two men light.
Saints took full advantage, scoring tries through Lee Gaskell and Francis Meli to secure a 16-4 victory, meaning a 16th straight derby success over their rivals.
"I thought there were two good teams out there," Betts said. "I thought we had a chance of winning the game.
"It was one of those tough days to be really skilful but I thought we had the better opportunities.
"It was only when we were down to 11 men that they really got some opportunties to score tries and they did.
"I'm really proud of my team. I thought we played better this week than we did last week.
"When it turns into 11 versus 13 it becomes very tough. We defended really well with 11 blokes actually."
St Helens coach Nathan Brown was delighted with the response from his players after their 40-4 humbling at the hands of Huddersfield in the opening round of the new Super League season.
"I was confident because our defence was so good," he said. "I didn't think they looked like scoring. I thought we were on top at that stage.
"It's good to get a win. I was happy with our effort and our defence. Our defence was far far better than last week.
"I thought the opposition ripped in. They played really well and, if we had the same commitment as last week, we would have got beat, without a shadow of doubt."
The only disappointment for the visitors were injuries picked up by Josh Perry, Jonny Lomax and Lance Hohaia; they already started the game without hooker James Roby due to a minor foot problem.
"Robes could have played at a push but it wasn't worth risking him," Brown added.
"We lost Josh early and lost Jonnny Lomax and Lance during the game and we had to move people around but those things happen and, when your effort and commitment are good, you give yourself a chance."
Betts, meanwhile, had no complaints over the dismissal of Cross but admitted he was surprised that only Clarke was shown a yellow card following the melee.
"There were plenty of other people who got involved," he said. "If he was going to get the cards out, which he obviously wanted to, it should have been 11 against 11.
"He's a really good referee but sometimes you have a bad one and I thought today he was poor at times."