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:Widnes:Tries: Ah Van (3), Dean, PhelpsGoals: Hanbury (1 from 4), Marsh (0 from 1)Drop: HanburySaints:Tries: Soliola, Wilkin, Shenton, JonesGoals: Gaskell (4 from 4)Penalties:Widnes: 9Saints: 8HT: 6-6FT: 24-23REF: Robert HicksATT: 7023Teams:Widnes: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.Saints: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.
MORE than 70 Junior Saints have enjoyed a super free fun morning at Langtree Park.The members were put through their paces by community coaches and played rugby based games as well as other various skills drills.After that they watched their heroes complete their pre-match preparations under the watchful eye of head coach Nathan Brown – before they chatted to the players and coaches, getting plenty of autographs and photographs.Club mascot Boots was also on hand to give out Easter eggs that had been kindly donated by The Co-operative supermarket on Chain Lane in Blackbrook.Community Coach Gareth Friar commented: “It was great to see so many youngsters enjoying themselves at Langtree Park and the event was the latest in the line of free members’ events. They are growing as the number of Junior Saints increase.”One junior member commented: “It was great the see the players training and even better to meet Nathan (Brown) and my favourite players.”You can find out more about Junior Saints by clicking here.
SAINTS were literally seconds away from booking their place in the Grand Final before conceding the game winning try to a Warrington side which finished with 12 men after a cynical late hit on play maker Dave Hewitt with three minutes to go, writes Graham Henthorne.But this is more a tale of chances missed from Derek Traynor’s side who could and probably should have been 20 points clear shortly after the break.Before the interval, both down the right hand side, Chris Worrall chose to take on the lone full back instead of the easier option out wide and Matty Fleming gave his winger the ball too early giving him little space to work in.Saints were the first on the board when quick hands down the blind side gave Lewis Galbraith enough space to score.But the Achilles heel all day, poor defence, allowed the home side to take the lead with two quick tries.Back came the Saints to level the game with a try from blockbusting forward André Savelio who looked to be finding some form again leading from the front. The Saints were awarded a penalty for a late hit on Danny Richardson and from the tap Savelio charged onto the ball to score.From the restart two good drives put the Saints on the front foot and allowed Richardson to show his paces with an arcing run which spilt the defensive line. He fed it on to the aforementioned Worrall who bombed the try but three tackles later Olly Davies’ miss pass gave Galbraith his second try and the Saints the lead again.Savelio was certainly putting himself about and the home side couldn’t handle it giving away a penalty in front of the sticks for punching after a rib-tickling tackle. Charnock converted and the Saints went in eight points to the good.The second half opened with the Saints again on the attack but two poor passes let the chances go. To compound the errors poor tackling allowed the home prop to trundle 60 metres down the middle to put them right back in it.A big hit from Matty Fleming forced the knock on in the Wolves 10 metre line and five tackles later Jonah Cunningham dove over into a yawning gap at dummy half to stretch the lead.Poor handling in our own half gifted a try to the Wolves and the Saints failed to convert territory into pressure or points with a knock on 15 metres out.The Wolves again gave the Saints possession and after Galbraith had been held short twice the ball was spread wide on the last and Davies arrowed a three man miss pass out to Adam Saunders on the wing who took it over his head and dove over Makinson style to touch down.But the Saints couldn’t put the home side away and after a suspicious knock on at a play the ball had been missed they again pulled close with a try on the last from a high kick that the Saints should have closed down.It was nip and tuck for the last ten minutes but as the Wolves threw everything at the Saints in the final minute they got a crucial fourth tackle penalty for holding down from the otherwise impressive Davies which gave them just enough field position to commit the Saints down the middle before spreading it wide left and going in on the overlap for the win.In truth the Saints didn’t play well but having got so close it was an agonising way to lose.Next week will see the Saints play the winners of the third/fourth place play off at Langtree for the right to go back to play Warrington again in the Grand Final. But everyone will have to improve massively for that to happen.Match Summary:Wolves U19s:Tries: Jack Johnson, Toby King, Declan Kay, George King, Joe Philbin, Tom WalkerGoals: Harvey Livett 6Saints U19s:Tries: Adam Saunders, Lewis Galbraith 2, André Savelio, Jonah Cunningham.Goals: Lewis Charnock 6Half Time: 20-12Full Time: 32-36Teams:Wolves:1. Jack Johnson; 2. Jake Eccleston, 3. Harvey Livett, 4. Toby King, 5. Declan Kay; 6. Declan Patton, 7. Louis Jouffret; 16. Daniel Murray, 9. Sean Kenny, 10. George King, 31. Joe Philbin, 12. Sam Wilde, 32. Tom Walker. Subs: 14. Robert Holroyd, 15. Andy Philbin, 17. James Jones, 18. Ryan Maneely.Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Adam Saunders, 4. Matty Fleming, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Lewis Galbraith; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Dave Hewitt; 8. Phil Atherton, 9. Lewis Charnock, 10. Matty Fozard, 11. Olly Davies, 12. André Savelio, 13. Morgan Knowles. Subs: 14. Jonah Cunningham, 15. Chris Worrall, 16. Liam Cooper, 17. Joe Ryan.