Widnes 40 St Helens 26: Denis Betts brings in fresh faces to knock Saints off pedestal


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The Independent Online

Denis Betts hailed the impact of the players he brought in after his Widnes side recovered from their Good Friday mauling at Warrington to beat St Helens 40-26 on Monday and knock Nathan Brown’s side off the top of the Super League.

“These Monday games can be a bit of lottery as you get beaten up on a Friday and then you go again,” Betts said. “The majority of the lads who played on Friday against Warrington put their hand up to play again, and that was a really pleasing thing for us. I thought the lads who came into the side – Grant Gore, Macgraff Leuluai and Paul Johnson – really gave us a lift.”

Brown was left to rue Saints’ poor start. “With four or five minutes to go, we were still in it, but the score probably reflected the game,” he said.

Leeds took over at the top but head coach Brian McDermott feels there is room for improvement despite a 32-4 victory over Salford. The Rhinos had to do plenty of defending in the first period but went into half-time with a narrow lead and blew the visitors away in the final 40 minutes, Zak Hardaker and Ben Jones-Bishop both scoring brilliant long-range tries.

“They punched a few holes in us throughout the game,” McDermott admitted. “We’re good at saving tries at the moment. We need to be asked less questions in the try-saving department.” Salford’s Iestyn Harris was left to reflect on an opportunity missed and conceded Leeds “were there for the taking”.

The Wigan coach Shaun Wane admitted he could sense his team were on the verge of a big points win before they thrashed Bradford 84-6, the Bulls’ worst-ever defeat. The champions ran in 15 tries to match their Super League record score against Hull KR last Easter Monday, youngster Ryan Hampshire collecting a tally of 24 points.

Wane was delighted with the win coming so close after the victory over St Helens on Good Friday. “The one training session we had they were really intense and focused and I knew we would perform today,” he said. “Their attitude really impressed me over this Easter period.”

Francis Cummins, the Bradford coach, admitted his side just did not compete for long enough as they were steamrollered by the home team. “We have seven missing and a couple of part-time players but I thought some of our boys had a real dig but we were probably way off,” he said.

Huddersfield claimed their first home win of 2014 at the fifth attempt but coach Paul Anderson was far from happy with the Giants’ performance in their 36-16 success over Wakefield. “The positive [thing] is, it’s over,” Anderson said. “It was a boring game, wasn’t it? We were wishing our lives away at one point.”