Super League: Widnes Vikings see off Salford Red Devils to stay perfect
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 07/03/14 10:25am
Widnes maintained their perfect start to the Super League season with a 32-18 triumph over big-spending Salford Red Devils at the Select Security Stadium.
A hat-trick of home triumphs in 2014 means the Vikings have now won six league outings in a row stretching back to the end of last year, showing their long-term planning is beginning to bear fruit.
Salford are trying to do things a little quicker thanks to Dr Marwan Koukash's millions, but with injuries taking their toll they were beaten in front of the Sky cameras for a second successive Thursday.
Kevin Brown marked his return from injury with two tries as Widnes - who still have a game in hand due to Wigan's World Club Challenge commitments - turned around a 12-8 half-time deficit that was hardly a fair reflection on the first 40 minutes.
They nearly scored on their opening set but had to wait until the 14th minute to break the deadlock, Chris Dean scoring during a third successive set.
Salford didn't lack for effort, Harrison Hansen producing one huge hit in a tackle, but struggled to break down a stubborn home defence without the sidelined Rangi Chase. That was, though, until they crossed twice in two minutes.
They needed something special to breach Widnes and that's exactly what they got when Greg Johnson manufactured a superb solo score, the winger somehow wriggling free from three tacklers inside his own half before cutting off his right foot to round the stranded Rhys Hanbury.
The Vikings barely had time to recover when they conceded again, Tim Smith's grubber setting free Jason Walton, who threw the ball inside for Jake Mullaney. The full-back drew his opposite number in Hanbury and then passed on for the supporting Tommy Lee to touch down.
Mullaney added both conversions to make it 12-6, though a Danny Tickle penalty, awarded perhaps generously for obstruction, with the final play in the half cut the gap to four.
The scoring continued to alternate in the third quarter, Salford surrendering the lead when Joe Mellor made them pay for allowing fellow half-back Brown's high kick to bounce.
However the Red Devils recovered to go 18-14 ahead when Mullaney stepped off his left foot on three occasions to cut loose and set up a try for Chase's understudy in the halves, French teenager Theo Fages.
That, though, was the last time Brian Noble's side - also without the services of Gareth Hock - would have their noses in front.
Hanbury reached out to score from dummy-half next to the line to see the lead change hands for a fourth, and now final, time, before Brown's brace made sure his side would stay perfect.
The former Huddersfield Giant worked a give-and-go to perfection with Macgraff Leuluai to make it a two-score cushion, then took a short pass to crash over on the left-hand side. Tickle finished with a perfect record off the tee, kicking all six of his conversion attempts to add to first-half penalty.
First Utility Super League
Thu 3rd Sep - Super 8s
Huddersfield GiantsvsCastleford Tigers
Fri 4th Sep - Super 8s
Leeds RhinosvsSt Helens
Sat 5th Sep - Super 8s
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Sun 6th Sep - Super 8s
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Hull FC
Thu 10th Sep - Super 8s
Castleford TigersvsSt Helens
Fri 11th Sep - Super 8s
Wigan WarriorsvsHull FC
Sat 12th Sep - Super 8s
Catalans DragonsvsLeeds Rhinos
Sun 13th Sep - Super 8s
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Thu 17th Sep - Super 8s
Leeds RhinosvsCastleford Tigers
Fri 18th Sep - Super 8s
Hull FC0 - 0Huddersfield Giants
St HelensvsWigan Warriors
Sat 19th Sep - Super 8s
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Fri 25th Sep - Super 8s
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Leeds Rhinos
Hull FC0 - 0Catalans Dragons
St Helens0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Super League 2014, round four
Wigan coach Shaun Wane says his side played dumb in their last-gasp loss at Castleford, who he admitted deserved to win.
Wakefield head coach Richard Agar refused to get carried away despite watching his side crush Catalan Dragons.
Warrington coach Tony Smith admitted his side had to work hard to see off a battling London side 44-16 in the capital.