SAINTS opened up their pre-season campaign with a 10-try Karalius Cup win over Widnes Vikings.
Royce Simmons’ men raced to a 36-4 lead at half time as their quick ball handling and pace through the middle swamped their hosts.
James Graham led the way with two tries whilst Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Michael Shenton turned in impressive ‘debut’ performances alongside the now free from injury Leon Pryce.
Andy Dixon continued the roll in the second half, but two quick Widnes’ tries and a number of handling errors checked progress. But further tries from Gary Wheeler and a rare ‘Penalty Try’ sealed a 52-20 win.
For Saints first hit-out of pre-season, new coach Royce Simmons opted to start with his strongest side available.
Only Kyle Eastmond, Paul Wellens and Josh Perry missed out meaning an early chance for fans to see new signings Michael Shenton and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
Lee Gaskell was named at scrum half with Leon Pryce completing the half back partnership.
Widnes made a number of changes for their third friendly of the season… with former Saint Ste Tyrer on the bench.
The Vikings opened the game on the attack with a chip to the corner forcing Francis Meli into early action. The ball came forward and from the scrum, Widnes opened up the defence and Shane Grady bulldozed over.
Danny Craven slicing the extras wide.
But Saints hit right back through James Graham less than a minute later – Jamie Foster converting with ease.
Moments later, Jammer’s short ball had Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook side-stepping his way to the line to increase the lead further. Foster making it 12-4.
Saints looked like scoring on every set and were almost in again when Michael Shenton found room down the right hand side.
But it was down the middle where the next try came – Sia Soliola breaking the line to nudge Saints further ahead. Foster adding the extras.
On 22 minutes, Saints showed some of the ball-play that makes them one of the most exciting teams to watch. From just over their own tryline the ball went through hands, to Gaskell who found Shenton in space.
And the former Castleford Tiger didn’t disappoint, showing a turn of pace and sleight of hand to feed Gardner who made no mistake. Foster drifting his conversion to the left of the posts from the far right corner.
James Roby bagged one of his own five minutes later, Foster tagging on the two, before Graham got his second of a lopsided first half. And just before the hooter sounded, an Ade Gardner break was finished off on the other side by Tom Armstrong.
Half time: Saints 36 Widnes 4
Saints started where they finished off with Andrew Dixon going over after a nice interchange with Armstrong.
Kurt Haggerty then got Widnes on the board when he used his strength to break through the line – Tyrer tagging on the extras.
And seconds later, Anthony Thackeray added another; bouncing off the would be tackler to go in the corner.
Saints were starting to look a bit scratchy but ‘normal service’ was resumed when Francis Meli rampaged in field and found Gary Wheeler in support. Foster making it 46-14.
Moments later, Saints were handed a penalty try when Sia Soliola was fouled as he tried to mop up a Vikings’ error. Foster with the conversion.
Widnes continued to try an expansive brand of rugby but were making handling errors and coming up against a keen Saints’ defence.
But they got the try their play deserved when Matt Gardner scooted in the corner – Tyrer converting to make the ‘half’ score 16-16 – and closing the scoring. Saints retaining the Karalius Cup for the third time.
Widnes: Tries: Grady, Haggerty, Thackeray, Gardner
Goals: Craven (0 from 1), Tyrer (2 from 3)
Saints: Tries: Graham (2), McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Gardner, Roby, Armstrong, Dixon, Wheeler, Penalty Try.
Goals: Foster (6 from 10)
Penalties: Widnes: 9 Saints: 6
HT (Sts First): 36-4
FT (Sts First): 52-20
REF: R Hicks
Widnes: 1. Danny Craven; 19. Matt Gardner, 18. James Ford, 23. Tangi Ropati, 5. Paddy Flynn; 6. Anthony Thackeray, 14. Thomas Coyle; 3. Richard Varkulis, 9. Kirk Netherton, 10. Daniel Heckenberg, 20. Shane Grady, 16. MacGraff Leuluai, 17. Ben Kavanagh.
Subs: 4. Steve Tyrer, 8. Steve Pickersgill, 12. Kurt Haggerty, 15. Chris Gerrard, 25. Chris Lunt, 29. Grant Gore, 34. Jack Owens.
Saints: 22. Jamie Foster; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Michael Shenton, 17. Gary Wheeler, 5. Francis Meli; 6. Leon Pryce, 25. Lee Gaskell; 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Chris Flannery.
Subs: 11. Tony Puletua. 14. Scott Moore, 16. Paul Clough, 18. Matty Ashurst, 19. Andrew Dixon, 24. Tom Armstrong.