Super League: St Helens 44-22 Widnes Vikings

Tom Makinson
Tom Makinson ran in three tries for St Helens against Widnes
St Helens (22) 44
Tries: Flanagan, Makinson 3, Masoe 2, Turner, Manu Goals: Percival 6
Widnes Vikings (0) 22
Tries: Phelps 2, Marsh, Hanbury Goals: Tickle 3

St Helens survived a Widnes comeback to maintain their lead in Super League.

Saints ran in 32 unanswered points in 44 minutes, Tom Makinson and Mose Masoe crossing twice, with Mark Flanagan and Jordan Turner also going over.

But Widnes hit back when Cameron Phelps scored two and Stefan Marsh touched down to reduce the deficit to 16, as Saints saw Luke Walsh stretchered off.

Makinson and Willie Manu made the game safe for the hosts, before Rhys Hanbury landed the final try for Widnes.

Speaking after the game, St Helens head coach Nathan Brown suggested Walsh had suffered a compound leg fracture or dislocated ankle.

The Australian scrum-half had missed the last three games with a back injury and it is not yet known how long he will be sidelined for again.

St Helens' final five games
v Hull FC (away)1 August
v Wakefield Wildcats (home)15 August
v Leeds Rhinos (away)29 August
v Warrington Wolves (home)4 September
v Huddersfield Giants (away)14 September

It was Walsh who set St Helens on their way against eighth-placed Vikings, his pinpoint pass was fed to Flanagan who ran over, and Mark Percival kicked his first of six conversions.

Makinson followed it up with an acrobatic touchdown in the corner and the unstoppable Masoe added two more before the break to make it 22-0, while Widnes saw Macgraff Leuluai sent to the sinbin for interference.

St Helens' dominance continued after the restart as Turner set up Makinson to cross under the posts, and the full-back returned the favour to help Turner score four minutes later.

The visitors finally got off the mark when Phelps found space to power over, and he added his second moments later, which was converted by Danny Tickle.

Walsh's injury and treatment delayed proceedings but Widnes continued their comeback, as Marsh raced 80 metres to touch down.

Makinson's hat-trick try in the corner came as a welcome relief to the under-fire Saints, and they extended their lead when Manu pounced on an attempted clearance.

It was Hanbury who had the last word when he powered over in the dying stages, with Tickle adding the extras.

St Helens head coach Nathan Brown:

"Jordan Turner and Mark Percival had good games, but both were responsible for poor reads for two of those tries.

"Apart from that I thought we played really well given what we had missing. For us to turn the game with our defence I was really proud of the guys.

"I thought JT and Wheels (Turner and Gary Wheeler) were super in the halves when Walsh went off.

"I thought we dominated them - we were great apart from a two-minute period where we had a lapse."

Widnes head coach Denis Betts:

"We got back in the game and got a bit of belief, but we conceded 10 points with 12 blokes on the field.

"We got rolled by a big pack and when we tried to come to terms with that we seemed to upset the referee.

"We had no possession in the first half and found it tough.

"St Helens is a tough place to come and play. That is why they are top of the league and going as well as they are going.

"However, it was a big blow for them losing Luke Walsh and injuries like that are not nice to see."

Friday's squads

St Helens: Wellens, Makinson, Turner, Percival, Dawson, Wheeler, Walsh, Amor, Roby, Walmsley, Manu, Soliola, Flanagan.

Replacements: Jones, Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Laffranchi.

Widnes: Hanbury, Ah Van, Phelps, Marsh, Flynn, Brown, Mellor, Cahill, Clarke, Gerrard, Galea, Allen, Tickle.

Replacements: Dean, Isa, Carberry, Leuluai.

Referee: Ben Thaler (RFL)