Betts rages at inequality after Saints profit from a two-man advantage

Widnes 4 St Helens 16

Stobart Stadium

Stuttering Saints got their season started, but only after last year's bottom club were controversially reduced to 11 men.

A dour but intriguing battle was locked at 4-4 on the hour mark, with Widnes arguably the better of the two sides. But then Ben Cross went in high on Paul Wellens and virtually all the players on the pitch were involved in a brief but furious fracas.

After consulting with both his assistants, the referee, James Child, sent off Cross and dispatched his team-mate Jon Clarke to the sin-bin.

The Widnes coach, Denis Betts, did not believe it had been that one-sided a fight. "If he wanted to get his cards out, he could have made it 11 versus 11 – 11 versus 13 made it pretty tough," Betts said. "I thought we could have won it. The players feel it was one they let slip."

Predictably, the two-man advantage told and, after Jordan Turner had a try disallowed for a knock-on, Saints finally got their noses in front in the 68th minute when Lee Gaskell sold a dummy and straightened up to find a gap in an out-numbered defence.

Widnes, with Gareth Hock making his debut, kept plugging away and creating half-chances, but with time running out Jonny Lomax pounced on a loose pass from Dave Allen and fed Francis Meli for his second try of the match. Two goals from Gaskell completed a scoreline that flattered the visitors.

Saints, thrashed by Huddersfield last week, had also looked off-colour in the first half at the Stobart Stadium. Widnes had taken the lead after nine minutes, when Rhys Hanbury kicked high across field, Paddy Flynn beat the defence to the ball and served it up for Stefan Marsh.

The equaliser came eight minutes later when Wellens chimed in to the line and released Meli.

Defences were usually on top after that, but Saints' new coach, Nathan Brown, was just happy to get the win, especially without the injured James Roby.

"People will say it's only Widnes, but they really ripped into us today and played very well," Brown said.

That praise will be scant consolation for Widnes perhaps, but may be taken as a warning to the rest of Super League that they need to be taken seriously, particularly when they have 13 men on the field.

Widnes Try Marsh. St Helens Tries Meli 2, Gaskell; Goals Gaskell 2 Widnes: Briscoe; Flynn, Marsh, Phelps, Isa; Mellor, Hanbury; Cross, Clarke, O'Carroll, Allen, Leuluai, Cahill. Subs used White, Hock, Joseph, Gerrard.

St Helens: Wellens; Makinson, Turner, Jones, Meli; Gaskell, Lomax; Perry, Hohaia, Laffranchi, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu. Subs used Greenwood, Flanagan, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Puletua. Referee: J Child (Dewsbury)

Suggested Topics
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home