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19th May 2018, 17:15 | magic_weekend
Leaders St Helens proved too strong for Widnes Vikings at St James' Park, sealing a 38-18 win in the opening Betfred Super League fixture of the Dacia Magic Weekend.
The Vikings made a strong start as Matt Whitley crossed inside the opening five minutes, but Saints were soon back on level terms thanks to Danny Richardson's converted effort.
Mark Percival and Regan Grace touched down for Justin Holbrook's side before Widnes responded with a score from Wellington Albert.
Ben Barba then went over for Saints but Widnes were boosted by Jimmy Keinhorst's superb try just before half-time, with Stefan Marsh adding the extras.
Saints extended their lead with a Richardson penalty at the start of the second period before Ryan Morgan struck twice and Grace added another late on.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook admits his side were below their best.
He said: "You come to this venue and you want to play your best game ever. We did that last year and set such high standards.
“You’re not going to do that every week.
“We were a little bit off with some of our passing and a little bit soft defensively in the first half but overall I’m happy with the win.
“People don’t give Widnes enough credit. I thought they were very unlucky not to beat Leeds in the Challenge Cup last week and, had they done that, it would have been a different week for us.
“Everyone had automatically given us the win which can make it hard for the players.
“I thought in the second half we dominated the game and we came away with a good win.”
Widnes coach Denis Betts was forced into a major re-shuffle when full-back Rhys Hanbury pulled a hamstring early in the match.
He said: “Stefan (Marsh) hasn’t practised at full-back but went to full-back and Matty Whiteley goes to the centre so we’ve got people out of position against the most dynamic back line in the competition.
“We had to change all the things we’d worked on all week. You can’t pre-empt the fact that this can happen.
“There was lots of energy and effort, just a lack of execution. I thought there were two really tough calls in the game. The scoreline doesn’t really indicate how close we were.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing on and these things will turn for us.”