St Helens hold off Widnes to record scrappy Super League win
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 28/03/16 9:11pm
St Helens bounced back from defeat to Wigan to record a 20-12 victory at Widnes in a scrappy encounter.
Despite a late rally from Denis Betts' side, the visitors deserved the win with Joe Greenwood, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Tommy Makinson going over in the first half.
Rhys Hanbury scored a try in each half for the hosts but it was not enough to stop them slipping to a second defeat over the Easter weekend, as Saints coach Keiron Cunningham maintained his record of never having lost to the Vikings as either a player or a coach.
Saints started quickly and went ahead in the fifth minute after a Patrick Ah van knock-on gave them an extra six, deep in Widnes territory. They made it count as Greenwood forced his way over, despite the best efforts of Joe Mellor and Setaimata Sa to hold him up, and Luke Walsh added the extras.
The Vikings hit back in the 13th minute, Hanbury taking advantage of some weak St Helens defending to dive over in the corner, before kicking the conversion to level the scores.
A scrappy couple of minutes followed with both sides knocking on to halt their attacking momentum but it was Widnes who were eventually made to play.
Having been gifted possession after a knock-on, Saints regained the lead when McCarthy-Scarsbrook timed his run to perfection, receiving Walsh's pass and powering between two Vikings defenders to score.
Walsh again converted and the visitors began to dominate, and, after Chris Dean conceded a needless penalty with Saints on the attack again, the ball was worked out wide to Makinson who ducked past Ah van to dot down for his side's third try.
Widnes pressed for a route back into the game before half-time and had the chance to assert some sustained pressure after a high tackle from Walsh but the Saints defence held firm on their own goal-line.
The game remained littered with errors and numerous penalties led to a stop-start encounter either side of the interval.
Walsh kicked the first points of the second period to extend Saints' lead and it took plenty more resolute defending to keep Cunningham's side at bay as they camped out in the hosts' territory.
Eventually, after Widnes were penalised again, St Helens opted to take the points, Walsh kicking his second penalty of the half to leave the Vikings needing three scores to turn things around.
They were given the chance to get one back as Mellor intercepted just short of his own try line and set Corey Thompson away on the break, only for Walsh to get back and make a try-saving tackle inside his own half.
Hanbury gave Widnes hope with 10 minutes to play as he jinked his way through before bundling over to score, and then convert, his and the Vikings' second try.
Dean looked set to add a third soon after only for Matty Dawson to steal the ball on his own goal-line, Saints held firm though as Widnes threatened from the resulting penalty to all but secure the win.
Thompson thought he had stolen a late try for Widnes, only for the video referee to rule it out for interference at the play of the ball.