Super League: Widnes Vikings 20-30 St Helens

Lance Hohaia
Lance Hohaia won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2008
First Utility Super League
Widnes Vikings (14) 20
Tries: O'Carroll, Ah Van, Heremaia Goals: Tickle, Marsh 3
St Helens (6) 30
Tries: Hohaia 2, Vea, Thompson, Turner Goals: Burns 5

Defending champions St Helens fought back from eight points down to beat Widnes Vikings and maintain their 100% start to the Super League season.

Saints have five wins from five games and top the table after previous leaders Leeds lost at Warrington.

Widnes led 14-6 at the break with tries from Eamon O'Carroll and Patrick Ah Van, Lance Hohaia replying for Saints.

But Atelea Vea, Luke Thompson, Jordan Turner and Hohaia all went over in a dominant second half for the visitors.

Aaron Heremaia crossed for a late consolation for Widnes, who had looked like causing a surprise until Keiron Cunningham's side found their form after half-time.

O'Carroll's early try in front of the posts gave Widnes the perfect start but Saints were soon level when New Zealand international Hohaia, who was starting at hooker with James Roby absent, darted over from dummy half.

Ah Van barged his way over in the corner to give the Vikings a 12-6 lead, Stefan Marsh expertly kicking the resulting goal from the touchline and then adding a penalty from 25 metres to give the hosts an eight-point advantage at the interval.

A perfect Super League start
St Helens were thrashed 39-0 by South Sydney Rabbitohs in the World Club Challenge last month, but have beaten Catalans, Salford, Castleford, Wakefield and Widnes to take the maximum 10 points from their first five Super League games.

But winger Ah Van failed to gather Jon Wilkin's high kick immediately after the restart, allowing Vea - a winter signing from relegated London Broncos - to score his second try of the season for Saints.

And the visitors took control after that, taking the lead for the first time in the match when teenage forward Thompson powered over, before Vea's break provided the platform for Turner's score.

Rampant Saints went further clear through Hohaia's second try, set up by a superb 40-20 kick by Burns, who also kicked five goals.

Vikings hooker Heremaia rounded off the scoring, receiving Ah Van's pass to touch down, but Widnes - who have only three points from their first five games - could not mount a meaningful comeback.

Widnes Vikings head coach Denis Betts:

"It was a wholehearted effort but we were dumb at times.

"We conceded three tries from dummy half and that's criminal. It was frustrating making some stupid errors and we ran out of energy at a crucial time.

"Grant Gore was really good for us but you have to give St Helens credit. They have the culture of knowing how to win."

St Helens head coach Keiron Cunningham:

"We looked a bit jaded in the first half but I was immensely pleased with our second half show. We set high standards at this club and were virtually untouchable at times.

"Atelea Vea was absolutely brilliant and is playing well with Joe Greenwood in the second row. Travis Burns has also fitted into our system really well and all the kids are doing a big job which is promising for the club.

"Lance [Hohaia] hasn't played many minutes this season but is a good competitor. He's a very good utility player and he's made it tough for me not to play him next week."

Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Flynn, Dean, Marsh, Ah Van; Gore, Mellor; Kavanagh, Heremaia, O'Carroll, Galea, Clarkson, Tickle.

Replacements: Leuluai, Gerrard, Dudson, Craven.

St Helens: Wellens; Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift; Burns, Wilkin; Walmsley, Hohaia, Richards, Greenwood, Vea, Thompson.

Replacements: Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Savelio, Dawson.

Referee: Robert Hicks

Attendance: 7,772