Absences make Saints work harder

Widnes 12 St Helens 40
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The Independent Online

Saints ended a traumatic week not exactly making light of the enforced absence of two of their best players, but at least showing they are determined to cope without them.

Saints ended a traumatic week not exactly making light of the enforced absence of two of their best players, but at least showing they are determined to cope without them.

Saints tried to draw a line under the Sean Long and Martin Gleeson affair before kick-off of this Super League game last night against Widnes by saying they would not be appealing and the two players would not be paid during their bans handed out for betting irregularities that will make them largely irrelevant for the rest of the season.

There was not a lot of sympathy for the pair and their chairman, Eamonn McManus, described them as "idiotic".

Saints tried to make up for the absences by moving Paul Wellens to scrum-half and Lee Gilmour to the centres last night. The reshuffle was a clue to the disruption the whole business has caused. It was to be expected that Widnes would look to take early advantage and they almost did when Chris Giles was just short from Jules O'Neill's high kick.

Widnes were looking lively and were on the attack when Andy Hay's fumble allowed Jason Hooper to cover most of the field before being caught by Aaron Moule. Saints kept the ball alive with some breathtaking handling, culminating in John Wilkin's acrobatic pass for Gilmour to score in the corner.

Three minutes later, Keiron Cunningham and Wellens opened up a suddenly brittle Widnes defence for Darren Albert to claim the second.

Saints were doing what they do best, by setting adversity to one side, and their third try came when Cunningham barged over. Widnes deservedly got one back before half-time, thanks to a contortionist's pass from Moule to Steve Rowlands. That good work was undone, however, when Ian Hardman was allowed to sneak over.

The second half was a routine affair with Paul Sculthorpe's reverse pass sending Keith Mason over before Moule wriggled clear to get one for Widnes.

That was as near as the home team got with Sculthorpe pouncing for his try and then setting one up for Wilkin. Sculthorpe finished with six goals as Long's stand-in kicker.

Widnes: Bird, Rowlands, Moule, Western, Giles, Finnigan, J. O'Neill, Relf, Millard, J. O'Neill, Hay, Wozniak, Frame. Substitutes used: S. Myler, Hobson, McCurrie, Mills.

St Helens: Albert, Gardner, Gilmour, Talau, Hardman, Hooper, Wellens, Fozzard, Cunningham, Mason, Joynt, Wilkin, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Edmondson, Feaunati, Stankevitch, Fa'asavalu.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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