Cunningham relief as Saints get back on track against Vikings

Tommy Makinson gave St Helens supporters the icing on the cake at Langtree Park last night, when, playing at fullback, he scored a brilliant long range try in the 74th minute to assure Saints of victory, with a final score of 34-16 against a determined challenge from Widnes Vikings.

In a match that had been evenly contested for more than 60 minutes Widnes had pulled back to be only 18-16 down when Matt Whitley touched down for his first try for the Vikings on 62 minutes.

But then Makinson took a hand, making the break that created a first Super League try for young winger Matty Fleming, and then touching down himself, before Mark Percival completed the tryscoring on the final hooter.

St Helens had scored earlier tries through Luke Walsh, Travis Burns and Alex Walmsley, while Widnes had scored tries from their halfbacks Kevin Brown and Joe Mellor, with the scores locked at 12-12 at half-time.

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham praised his side after they ended a run of four defeats in five matches.

“The boys did well and there were some very good individual performances,” said Cunningham.

“We played really nervously at times, which was understandable because expectations are high here and we are under is pressure to perform.

“Mose Masoe and he was sensational and young Greg Richards did a great job.

“And Tommy (Makinson) did a great job. Fullback is one of the toughest positions to play and he’s still finding his feet.

“But he is learning well from Paul Wellens.

“Luke Walsh came through unscathed in his first full match after breaking his leg against Widnes last year.

“Mark Percival was immense and looks a future international and it was a great game.

“The neutrals will have had their money’s worth and I felt at times there didn’t deserve to be a loser.

“Widnes really challenged us and they will climb up the table if they continue to play like that.”

Widnes coach Denis Betts was pleased with newcomer Matt Whitley, who had signed a new contract last week.

“We ran out of energy near the end,” said Betts.

“Mark Percival was outstanding and he made a massive difference when he came on and really hurt us with Tommy Makinson late in the game.

“But we have found a bit of a star in 18-year-old Matt Whitley.

“It’s tough to take because I know how hard we worked. Defensively we were solid and there were two sides going at each other hammer and tongs.

“The final scoreline sounds like we were blown away but it was very close for 72 minutes.”

A full report and photos will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express