|Betfred Super League|
|St Helens (20) 36|
|Tries: Taia, Percival, Swift 3, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Fages Goals: Richardson 4|
|Widnes (0) 6|
|Try: Craven Goal: Inu|
Adam Swift scored a hat-trick as Super League leaders St Helens eased to a 36-6 win over Widnes to maintain their six-point lead at the top of the table.
Saints dominated the first half and led 20-0 at the break with tries from Zeb Taia, Mark Percival, Adam Swift and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
Widnes, who have now lost 13 successive league games, scored straight after the restart through Danny Craven.
But Theo Fages crossed and Swift scored twice more to complete victory.
St Helens have now won nine straight league games, and 11 in all competitions, and looked set to extend their lead at the top to seven points until Josh Woods’ last-minute drop-goal earned second-placed Wigan a dramatic 13-12 win over third-placed Warrington.
In contrast, Widnes, who were without Chris Houston after his partner went into labour, remain rooted to the bottom of the table with only three wins all season and already know they must navigate the Qualifiers, which start next month, if they are to retain their top-flight status for 2019.
Saints coped admirably without Man of Steel contender Ben Barba, who missed the game despite being expected to figure after picking up a knee injury in last weekend’s win over Wakefield, to score seven tries.
Taia capitalised on a break from James Roby to give them the lead, Percival finished off a move started by Jonny Lomax and, after Swift beat Stefan Marsh to score, McCarthy-Scarsbrook burst over.
Lomax then set up Fages after the break to restore Saints’ 20-point advantage, and Swift dived in at the corner before completing his hat-trick three minutes from time.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook:
“The boys did a fantastic job – especially Adam Swift who got a hat-trick.
“We had to do some shuffling about tonight with injuries to Ben Barba and Tommy Makinson.
“We know Widnes are struggling but they are still competitive. Our defence was fantastic and we scored some good tries. Full credit to the players – they ripped in and got what they deserved.”
Widnes interim coach Francis Cummins:
“I thought we played poorly right from the start. We took a step forward last week [at Hull FC] but tonight was a step back.
“In the second half we started well by keeping things simple but then we started making basic errors.
“We have to play smarter and with more determination. We are getting better in some areas but are still a bit frail in others.
“We have got to keep going – we are not down and out.”
St Helens: Lomax; Swift, Costello, Percival, Grace; Fages, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin
Interchanges: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Lees.
Widnes: Hanbury; Marsh, Runciman, Inu, Buckley; Mellor, Craven; J Chapelhow, A Heremaia, Dudson, Wilde, Hauraki, Gerrard.
Interchanges: Whitley, Olbison, Leuluai, Walker.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas