SAINTS retained the Karalius Cup for the fourth successive year after a tough 42-24 encounter with Widnes Vikings – the first game ever at Langtree Park.
A crowd of 11,924 saw Paddy Flynn score a hat-trick for the visitors before Andy Dixon’s try 13 minutes from time finally broke their resolve.
Saints were 20-18 down at half time as both sides showed their attacking flair… but forgot some of their defensive duties!
Paddy Flynn and Stefan Marsh put Widnes in front before Sia Soliola, Francis Meli and the boot of Jamie Foster made it 12-10.
But the Vikings hit back through Rhys Hanbury – exchanging tries with Nathan Ashe – before Flynn bagged his second.
Lee Gaskell put Saints ahead 20 minutes into the second half but Flynn’s third drew them level.
Andy Dixon then ran an excellent line to forge ahead once more then Jamie Foster and Tommy Makinson sealed the win.
Lance Hohaia and Anthony Laffranchi joined Mark Flanagan in making their home debuts whilst Ade Gardner made his first start since May.
Widnes were playing in their third friendly and fielded their strongest possible side with former Saint Scott Moore back at his old stomping ground.
After Sean Bibby had the honour and taking the first ever kick at Langtree Park, Widnes almost followed him with the first try… but Tommy Makinson was more than up to the task.
Francis Meli was held up on his back and then Scott Moore did the same ten minutes in.
But it was Paddy Flynn who took Stefan Marsh’s pass to put the Vikings up – Patrick Ah Van missing the extras.
Moments later Stefan Marsh undid the defence to make it 8-0 – Ah Van then tagging on the two.
But Saints were finally off the mark when a big Sia Soliola hit gave them great field position. From there, two penalties had them on the Viking’s line and Roby, Hohaia and Lomax combined to send Soliola in.
Foster with the two.
Within minutes Saints were 12-10 to the good. Tommy Makinson linked up with James Roby who broke in the centre and found Francis Meli on the inside.
Foster putting Saints in front.
But Widnes had other ideas and Rhys Hanbury plunged over after some poor tackling.
Hohaia slid the ball through for Nathan Ashe to score – 60 seconds after his introduction to the field – but the Vikings were level once again when Anthony Watts produced a fine chip kick to reclaim and send over Flynn for his second.
Ah Van putting Widnes ahead with the conversion at the half time break.
Saints could have gone ahead early in the second half but Gary Wheeler’s pass to Tommy Makinson left the youngster with too much to do in the corner.
Two obstructions then stopped two certain scores as the home side looked to get back into it.
Widnes pushed and could have extended their lead through Patrick Ah Van – save for a last gasp tackle – and Saints made them pay.
This time Lee Gaskell jinked through the defence to get Saints ahead.
On 62 minutes a chip kick missed the Saints would be tacklers and Paddy Flynn grabbed a deserved hat-trick
Ah Van crucially missing the extras.
Andy Dixon was next on the sheet, scorching through from short range after running a cute line and Foster took the lead to six with his fifth kick from five attempts.
And that man finally killed off the Vikings; finishing off a great team move take his personal points tally to 18.
Makinson grabbing another at the death.
Tries: Soliola. Meli, Ashe, Gaskell, Dixon, Foster, Makinson
Goals: Foster (7 from 7)
Tries: Flynn (3), Marsh, Hanbury
Goals: Ah Van (2 from 5)
REF: R Hicks
21. Tommy Makinson; 2. Ade Gardner, 17. Gary Wheeler, 5. Francis Meli, 22. Jamie Foster; 7. Jonny Lomax, 6. Lance Hohaia; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook, 12. Jon Wilkin, 4. Sia Soliola, 15. Mark Flanagan.
Subs: 8. Josh Perry, 13. Chris Flannery, 16. Paul Clough, 18. Shaun Magennis, 19. Andrew Dixon, 20. Lee Gaskell, 24. Nathan Ashe.
1. Shaun Briscoe; 2. Paddy Flynn, 20. Stefan Marsh, 4. Willie Isa, 5. Patrick Ah Van; 14. Anthony Watts, 7. Rhys Hanbury; 8. Ben Cross, 9. Scott Moore, 10. Ben Davies, 11. Frank Winterstein, 21. Dave Allen, 13. Jon Clarke.
Subs: 3. Chris Dean, 6. Lloyd White, 16. Ben Kavanagh, 17. Steve Pickersgill, 22. Macgraff Leuluai, 24. Kurt Haggerty, 25. Danny Craven, 26. Anthony Mullally.