St Helens 16
Tries: Greenwood, Swift, Roby
Goals: Makinson 1/1, Hewitt 1/2
Widnes Vikings 20
Tries: Flynn, Ah Van, Hulme 2
Goals: Marsh 0/2, Craven 2/2
A late Dec Hulme double saw Widnes Vikings defeat St Helens 20-16 in the annual Karalius Cup pre-season fixture at Langtree Park.
Both sides had a strong starting line-up as the new season approaches however youngsters from both sides entered the game later on and impressed in a bruising encounter.
St Helens started slow and it was apparent they were a game behind Widnes in their preparation for the start of the 2015 Super League season.
The Vikings showed great resolve in defence and that only waivered when a sin binning reduced them to 12 men.
The game got off to the perfect start for the Vikings as a Matty Dawson knock on gave them the chance to attack Saints. From the resulting set Mellor and Rhys Hanbury linked up well to put Paddy Flynn in for a try out wide after just three minutes.
The forwards were trading blows in the middle and solid defence from both sides kept the chances to a minimum.
It took a trademark James Roby dart from behind the play the ball to pave the way for a St Helens try, as he won a penalty after his impressive break.
A great tackle from Stefan Marsh denied Travis Burns a try as he held Saints’ new recruit up over the line, however from the next play Joe Greenwood scored from close range. Tommy Makinson’s conversion put the home side 6-4 ahead.
Makinson should have extended the lead when he raced after a Burns kick but he knocked on over the line in an attempt to dive onto the ball.
The errors started creeping in for the visitors towards the end of the half and Saints started to get on top. That was until Patrick Ah Van avoided touch with a great diving finish in the corner five minutes from half time, as he benefitted from a Hanbury cut out ball.
Stefan Marsh couldn’t add the extras as the Vikings went into the break 8-6 ahead.
The second 40 started evenly and after 51 minutes Macgraff Leuluai became the fourth Widnes player to be sin binned in the last two games. Manase Manuokafoa caught Jon Wilkin late when pressuring the kicker and the Saints man was lucky to stay on the field as he appeared to strike out before Leuluai was controversially binned.
The home side took full advantage of the extra man when four minutes later Adam Swift raced over in the corner using the extra space created by the yellow card.
Just before Leuluai’s reintroduction James Roby capped an impressive display with a try as he muscled over on 59 minutes with the Widnes defence stretched across the field. A Dave Hewitt conversion gave his side a 16-8 lead.
The champions seemed to have control of the game and their lead looked comfortable. Cameron Phelps changed that though when he forced a knock on with a good tackle and from the resulting scrum Dec Hulme forced his way over out wide eight minutes from time.
Danny Craven’s touchline conversion meant that just two points separated the sides and a try would be enough to steal the victory for his side.
Lewis Charnock gave Widnes the boost they needed from the kick off as he found touch on the full and Hulme burst through a gap to score out wide in the 75th minute.
Craven converted again and Widnes saw out the remainder of the game to stun St Helens and snatch victory from their local rivals.