St Helens, inspired by star fullback Ben Barba, comfortably beat Widnes Vikings 28-6 in a six-try win at the Select Security Stadium.
After a promising Vikings start, it was Saints who opened the scoring through Ryan Morgan after Ben Barba got himself free on the right. Barba got another assist when Mark Percival took the fullback’s kick after indecision in Widnes’ cover defence allowed the centre to steal in.
Widnes fought back when Wellington Albert, only just on the field, burst on to an Aaron Heremaia pass to crash over. But Percival grabbed his second after he got on the end of Danny Richardson’s grubber which gave Saints a 16-6 lead at the break.
Saints were reduced to 12 men after just one minute of the first half: Luke Douglas binned by referee Chris Kendall for a crusher tackle. Widnes almost profited immediately but Ryan Ince grounded Danny Craven’s grubber directly on the dead-ball line.
The Vikings were made to pay from the seven-tackle set. The ever-elusive Barba skipped past his marker and managed to reach out to ground the ball. But on replay, it appeared Barba had dropped the ball.
Still down to 12, Saints scored once more when they spread the ball right all the way to Tommy Makinson who dived expertly in at the corner.
Makinson grabbed his double, his 100th try for St Helens, soon after. On the last play, Saints probed left and right before the ball went right and Makinson finished well again.
Vikings: Craven, Marsh, Chamberlain, Runciman, Ince, Heremaia, Gilmore, Gerrard, Johnstone, Chapelhow, Olbison, Wilde, B Walker; Interchanges: D Walker, Albert, Burke, Leuluai
Tries: Albert; Goals: Gilmore
Saints: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin; Interchanges: Smith, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles
Tries: Morgan, Percival 2, Barba, Makinson 2; Goals: Richardson 2
Sin-bin: Douglas – dangerous contact