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.
HOT TICKETSFour new dates have been announced after tickets for the first Monty Python live show for 30 years sold out within 44 seconds.The veteran comedy troupe – John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – announced they were getting back together last week.A spokesman for the Pythons said the July 1 event sold out in 43.5 seconds on Monday morning and tickets for four further shows had immediately gone on sale.Tickets for the show appeared for resale on ticket listing websites within minutes for up to £3,000 each.The concerts at the venue in Greenwich, southeast London, come more than 30 years after their last stage performance.Speaking at last week’s news conference, they said they would include some of their most famous routines, including the dead parrot sketch. WBA v A VillaPremier League8pm, Sky Sports 1NEIGHBOURS, EVERYBODY NEEDS GOOD NEIGHBOURSI’ve decided to spend two hours trying to split the atom tonight at 8pm – it might be easier than finding a winner between WBA and Aston Villa.Just four miles between the two West Midlands teams, geographically, and in the Premier League they are even closer. Next door neighbours on 14 points and split by a goal difference of just one.On top of that there’s very little to choose between them in previous encounters with the last 10 encounters never seeing a margin of more than one goal:HEAD TO HEAD RECORD(Max last 10 only)Jan 2013 Premier West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa Sep 2012 Premier Aston Villa 1-1 West Brom Apr 2012 Premier West Brom 0-0 Aston Villa Oct 2011 Premier Aston Villa 1-2 West Brom Apr 2011 Premier West Brom 2-1 Aston Villa Dec 2010 Premier Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom Jan 2009 Premier Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom Sep 2008 Premier West Brom 1-2 Aston Villa Apr 2006 Premier Aston Villa 0-0 West Brom Jan 2006 Premier West Brom 1-2 Aston VillaWest Brom forward Nicolas Anelka is fit after recovering from the groin problem that ruled him out against Chelsea. The Baggies will assess Scott Sinclair’s hamstring injury, while Billy Jones is ruled out with a similar problem. Aston Villa are optimistic that Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann will be fit to play despite respective knee and hamstring injuries. Ciaran Clark, Antonio Luna and Fabian Delph are also back in contention. I’m on the draw, obviously. STAR FORECAST(stake between 0.5 and 10 points)10 points DRAW at around 9/4