SAINTS stay top of Super League – but tonight’s win was achieved at a massive cost with Luke Walsh carried off on a stretcher with a suspected leg break.
Saints were always in control of the game, bar an horrendous six minutes second half spell.
They bossed the opening exchanges and opened the score after seven minutes when Luke Walsh sent second row man Mark Flanagan storming to the line, with Mark Percival improving.
A rare Paul Wellens mistake, losing a high ball and resulting in Tommy Makinson cleaning up in an offside position, allowed Widnes a free set on the line.
Saints held out and some strong running from Kyle Amor and Alex Walmsley enabled them to get back on the front foot.
It looked alike they were going to double that lead on 17 minutes, but Percival could not hold Luke Walsh’s pass.
However, Saints were soon back on the scoresheet on the other flank when Tommy Makinson swept up Mark Flanagan’s smart kick wide to touch down at the corner flag.
Saints were patiently building pressure, with a shrewd kicking game forcing numerous repeat sets.
The pressure told on 28 minutes and after another drop out, Saints hammered the visitors’ line with Mose Masoe proving unstoppable from close range.
He had further to run – 20 metres – for the next one, but showing a good turn of pace, he left Vikings full back Rhys Hanbury with no chance as he steamrollered his way to a second try. Percival chipped over the extras to make it 22-0.
After a couple of warnings, ref Ben Thaler lost patience with Vikings’ indiscretions and sent Vikings back row MacGraff Leuluai to the sin-bin.
There was no let up after the break, with Masoe’s offload fom a three man tackle unleashing the three-quarter line enabling Jordan Turner to produce a sublime pass for Makinsn to swerve inside the cover and cross under the posts.
Percival had no trouble goaling.
Saints had their foot down, and Widnes could not get a sniff of the ball to arrest their momentum and Makinson returned the compliment to his centre with another neatly taken try.
Vikings enjoyed a blistering six-minute spell after getting themselves on the scoresheet on 50 minutes when they moved the ball well to create space for Cameron Phelps to power over on the left.
And virtually from the restart Vikings were in again with a long range movement which was polished off by Phelps.
A long delay followed after scrum half Luke Walsh was carried off on a stretcher with his legs strapped together.
But after that enforced break, it was again Widnes going the length of the field with Stef Marsh raccing 80 metres, rounding Wellens to go under the sticks.
Danny Tickle slotted the goal and the score was pegged back to 32-16.
But Saints stemmed the flow and showed plenty of urgency when they countered, with James Roby helping the forwards to march the ball downfield.
And from a repeat set, after Hep Cahill’s fingers had nudged Gary Wheeler’s high kick.
Saints gave the ball some air, with Makinson the recipient in the corner – and he did the rest.
Saints made the pendulum swing the other way with some mad dog defence hammering the Vikings back.
And that defence yielded try when Widnes tried to clear the lines, but the ball emerged for Willie Manu to collect and fall over the line.
Hanbury added a late response for Vikings – his momentum taking him over the line.
Saints: Wellens: Makinson, Turner, Percival, Dawson; Wheeler, Walsh; Amor, Roby, Walmsley, Manu, Soliola, Flanagan. Subs: Jones, Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Laffranchi.
Widnes: Hanbury; Ah Van, Phelps, Marsh, Flynn; Brown, Mellor; Cahill, Clarke, Galea, Allen, Tickle. Subs: Dean, Isa, Carberry, Leuluai.