Sculthorpe hauls Saints to victory

Widnes 22 St Helens 29 Half-time: 18-18
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The former New Zealand coach Daniel Anderson will inherit a winning side when he flies in this week to become Saints' new coach, but only thanks to a hard-fought victory over a Widnes team who came close to embarrassing the side in second place in Super League.

The former New Zealand coach Daniel Anderson will inherit a winning side when he flies in this week to become Saints' new coach, but only thanks to a hard-fought victory over a Widnes team who came close to embarrassing the side in second place in Super League.

It was only a surge in the final quarter that saw Saints home in difficult conditions at the Halton Stadium. If they were still well short of the standards they set under the sacked Ian Millward, they will at least start life under their new management with their confidence on its way to being re-built.

The scrum-half Stephen Myler gave Widnes a short-lived early lead with a penalty, but they then paid the price for failing to control Keiron Cunningham at dummy-half.

First, Cunningham's kick set up Paul Sculthorpe for what was, remarkably, his first try of the season. After 10 minutes a deflection from another Cunningham kick allowed Saints to continue their attack and Sean Long booted the ball high to the wing for Darren Albert to catch cleanly and touch down.

It looked ominous for Widnes, but they discovered some of the fight they had shown at Wakefield last weekend, and after a strong run by the former Wigan prop Terry O'Connor, the hooker Shane Millard darted for the line and just managed to get the ball on to the whitewash.

After 18 minutes, Widnes were level, the second-row Mick Cassidy doing well to keep the ball alive when he was crunched in a two-man tackle, the stand-off Owen Craigie acting as the link and Gary Connolly, playing in the centres, showing that he still has his upper body strength by twisting to force the ball down.

Willie Talau's improvisation took Saints back into the lead. He twice kicked along the left-hand touchline and Paul Wellens arrived from onside to seize the second of them and plunge over for their third try.

To their credit, Widnes finished the half attacking remorselessly. After four sets of tackles, they finally got their reward when Craigie ran at the defence and got his pass to Matt Whitaker for the try. Myler's third goal brought them level again, even if there was more than a hint of obstruction about the way in which the try was scored.

Widnes hit the front again at the start of the second half when a beautifully judged kick from Craigie allowed Andrew Emelio to score with ease. But it was a knock-on on the first tackle by Sala Fa'alogo that gave Saints their invitation back into the match.

After they built the pressure steadily, and a pass from Jamie Lyon sent Albert over for his second try. Sculthorpe added a penalty to put Saints ahead and then made the break from which Mickey Higham scored the crucial try, Sculthorpe adding drop goal as insurance.

Widnes: Holmes; Emelio, Hughes, Connolly, Viane; Craigie, Myler; O'Connor, Millard, Stankevitch, Cassidy, Frame, Finnigan. Substitutes used: O'Neill, Whitaker, Fa'alogo, Smith.

St Helens: Wellens; Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner; Hooper, Long; P Anderson, Cunningham, Fa'asavalu, Wilkin, V Anderson, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Bennett, Higham, Mason, Fozzard.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

Comments