Cool Gaskell Snatches Win

LEE Gaskell’s conversion off the touchline handed Saints a dramatic last gasp 24-23 win over Widnes Vikings.

A rollercoaster and somewhat controversial match saw the lead swap sides several times before the youngster came of age.

Cameron Phelps looked to have booked Widnes two points after he finished off a fine passing move to push his side five points to the good with less than three minutes on the clock.

But Saints won the ball back from the restart, threw it around to send Josh Jones over and Gaskell showed his increasing maturity to nail the two-pointer right between the uprights.

There have been times in the past Saints have dug deep to claim an unlikely win and once again they proved no one can write them off.

And like the countless other occasions, this one was just as dramatic.

An error strewn but enjoyable first 40 saw the game tied at 6-6.

Saints dominated the majority of the half but failed to convert a number of chances.

Lance Hohaia was cruelly denied by referee Robert Hicks when he clearly put the ball down but with seven minutes left his chip through saw Sia Soliola gets Saints on their way.

Moments later Patrick Ah Van replied after the visitors failed to deal with a simple kick.

In the second half, Jon Wilkin prised open the defence within three minutes, but former Saint Chris Dean reduced the arrears to just two points before Ah Van added his second.

Michael Shenton replied immediately but Ah Van got his third – just as Saints were looking to kill the match off.

Rhys Hanbury added a drop goal on 73 minutes to edge Widnes ahead once more before Phelps’ superb team effort looked to send the points the home side’s way.

But up popped Jones for his 11th in twelve games and the rest, as they say, is history.

Saints made two changes from the side that beat Hull KR – Gaskell coming in for the injured Jonny Lomax and Andy Dixon replacing Mark Flanagan on the bench.

And following on from their hammering of Castleford last week, Widnes were unchanged.

After kicking off, Saints almost made the perfect start. Tommy Makinson was taken high and from the penalty a great flat ball from Tony Puletua almost put Paul Wellens over.

Moments later, Makinson produced a mazy run that unfortunately no-one could finish off.

And on 20 minutes Josh Perry lost the ball over the line after a superb powerful run.

Lance Hohaia had a perfectly good try disallowed on 27 minutes as he jinked through and put down only for referee Robert Hicks to claim he’d knocked on.

Perplexed, the Kiwi fumed at the decision and was penalised seconds later for arguing with the official.

Saints did get the breakthrough though and it came from Sia Soliola. Only on the field a matter of seconds he put in a monster hit, then a massive drive and on his next play managed to mop up Hohaia’s cheeky chip that Widnes couldn’t defend.

Lee Gaskell with the extras.

But Patrick Ah Van replied immediately after Makinson failed to deal with a long kick; goaled by Rhys Hanbury to leave it tied 6-6 at half time.

Saints didn’t waste much time readdressing the balance – just three minutes into the second half.

It was started by Meli’s blast up the field off his own twenty and finished, after a penalty, by Jon Wilkin following Roby’s line pass.

But on 51 minutes Widnes hit back as they punished Saints’ ill-discipline. The Vikings gained good yards then Chris Dean got on the outside of Lee Gaskell to bring them to within two.

Ah Van clocked up his second of the game from the restart.

The lead was short-lived as Saints won a penalty and from the tap the ball went through hands for Michael Shenton to score in the corner.

Gaskell with a magnificent conversion.

But with 15 minutes to go and Saints looking to increase their lead Andy Dixon threw an interception and Ah Van went 80 yards to level it up.

Hohaia had a drop goal attempt charged down as the game entered its final ten, then Rhys Hanbury slotted over an easier attempt.

With Saints on the rack Cameron Phelps crossed next, taking advantage of weak defending down the left hand side.

Crucially, Stefan Marsh missed the conversion – as was Widnes problem all afternoon but they would probably claim that at least one of Hanbury’s efforts went over despite both touch judges ruling it out.

With less than two minutes to go Saints needed a slick a luck and got it when Widnes knocked on from the kick off. That saw them passing the ball left and right and Francis Meli taking on the line to feed Josh Jones.

It could have been a mere consolation but Lee Gaskell, impeccable with the boot, banged over the conversion from the touchline to send the Saints’ fans wild.

Match Summary:

Tries: Ah Van (3), Dean, Phelps
Goals: Hanbury (1 from 4), Marsh (0 from 1)
Drop: Hanbury

Tries: Soliola, Wilkin, Shenton, Jones
Goals: Gaskell (4 from 4)

Widnes: 9
Saints: 8

HT: 6-6
FT: 24-23

REF: Robert Hicks

ATT: 7023



18. Cameron Phelps; 4. Willie Isa, 20. Stefan Marsh, 3. Chris Dean, 5. Patrick Ah Van; 34. Joe Mellor, 7. Rhys Hanbury; 8. Ben Cross, 13. Jon Clarke, 17. Steve Pickersgill, 11. Frank Winterstein, 21. Dave Allen, 12. Hep Cahill.
Subs: 10. Ben Davies, 18. John Kite, 35. Paul McShane, 36. Eamon O’Carroll.


1. Paul Wellens; 21. Tommy Makinson, 3. Michael Shenton, 26. Josh Jones, 5. Francis Meli; 20. Lee Gaskell, 6. Lance Hohaia; 8. Josh Perry, 9. James Roby, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 13. Chris Flannery, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 4. Sia Soliola, 10 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Paul Clough, 19. Andy Dixon.

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