SAINTS booked their place in the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup with a narrow 40-38 victory over local rivals Widnes Vikings, writes Louise Fildes.
Despite a remarkable comeback from the Vikings, Saints held on with 12 men after James Roby was sinbinned with nine minutes to go.
Saints looked to be in control with twenty-five minutes to go, leading 40-16.
But a spirited Vikings comeback saw them score three unanswered tries late in the day, with only a missed conversion separating the teams.
Debutant Adam Swift played on despite the loss of his Granddad just hours before kick off.
Widnes got off to the perfect start, scoring with just three minutes on the clock, Patrick Ah Van with a break down the left hand side. He couldn’t convert.
Saints responded in the best possible way. Four minutes later the scores were levelled when Anthony Laffranchi intercepted a Widnes pass 40m out from his own try line. Couple of passes later and Josh Jones was over in the left hand corner. Jonny Lomax missed with the extras.
An unusual error from James Roby nearly cost Saints dearly four minutes later with a knock on under his own posts. But a poor pass from Widnes went astray and Lomax mopped up.
Saints made up for this error three minutes later with a superb try under the posts. Roby’s pass gave Lomax daylight, inside Pass to Paul Wellens and Wello was in under the posts. Lomax converted to put Saints 10-4 up.
But Widnes responded with scrum half Rhys Handbury fooling the Saints defence with some superb footwork to score under the posts. Ah Van converted and the Vikings were right back in the game at 10-10.
Four minutes later Saints regained their lead. They were helped up field thanks to a penalty for a high shot on forward Paul Clough. It took just three tackles before Chris Flannery scooted over from close range to score left of the posts. Lomax added the vital extras to give the away side a 16-10 advantage.
A crucial knock on from Widnes 40m out gave Saints the perfect excuse to extend their lead. From the resulting scrum, stand off Lance Hohaia reached over from close range. After deliberation from the video ref, he was awarded the try. Again, Lomax added the two to put Saints 22-10 ahead.
This lead was extended further three minutes from half time. Flannery broke free 40 metres out and looked certain to score until Widnes full back Owens knocked on deliberately to save a certain try. From the resulting scrum, prop forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook crashed over. With Lomax adding the extras, Saints went in at half time 28-10 up and cruising.
Widnes opened the scoring in the second half. A high bomb from Handbury caught Wellens in goal. From the drop out, Lloyd White raced over the white wash on the right hand side of the posts. Ah Van added the extras to claw the scores closer at 28-16.
Again Saints responded in the only way they know, Josh Jones scoring his second try of the evening after a superb off the deck pass from Flannery. Lomax slotted over the two points and Saints now lead 34-16.
Both teams exchanged numerous sets of six but it wasn’t until the 57th minute that Saints extended their lead even further. A superb grubber kick set the platform for Wellens, on his 450th career appearance, to catch and score to the left hand side of the posts. Lomax added the two giving Saints a comfortable 40-16 lead.
From there on it, it was all Widnes. Their first come back try came through Kurt Haggerty, the second through Hep Cahill. Ah Van added the extras and Widnes were closing the gap, 40-28.
With Roby in the sin bin, Widnes took full advantage, scoring two more tries through Ah Van and White for his second, but Ah Van could only convert the one, meaning with two minutes to go Saints lead 40-38.
The visitors hung on to take the spoils at The Stobart Stadium.
Saints have a lot to work on but are safely through to the fifth round of the Cup and will face the Vikings at Langtree Park next weekend.
1. Paul Wellens, 2. Adam Swift, 3. Michael Shenton, 26. Josh Jones, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 9. James Roby, 8. Josh Perry, 4. Sia Soliola, 13. Chris Flannery, 15. Mark Flanagan.
10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Paul Clough, 18. Shaun Magennis, 19. Andrew Dixon
29. Jack Owens, 2. Paddy Flynn, 3. Chris Dean, 4. Willie Isa, 5. Patrick Ah Van, 25. Danny Craven, 7. Rhys Handbury, 8. Ben Cross, 13. John Clarke, 17. Steve Pickersgill, 11. Frank Winterstein, 24. Kurt Haggerty, 12. Hep Cahill
6. Lloyd White, 18. John Kite, 22. Macgraff Leuluai, 26. Anthony Mullally