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Challenge Cup fifth round: Widnes through to quarters Salford Red Devils' expense
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Danny Craven made the most of his last-minute call-up by helping Widnes into the last eight of the Tetley's Challenge Cup with a 30-20 win over Salford Red Devils.
The 22-year-old half-back was drafted in by Vikings coach Denis Betts for his fifth appearance of the season when Grant Gore was injured in the warm-up and he went on to play a key role in their away win.
Full-back Rhys Hanbury scored two of Widnes' five tries in a match they dominated for an hour but almost let victory slip from their grasp in a thrilling finish as the Red Devils staged a dramatic fight back.
Salford coach Iestyn Harris gave a debut to full-back Greg Eden following his arrival on loan from Hull KR and he came through an early barrage of towering kicks to make a solid start to his spell at the AJ Bell Stadium.
However, the Vikings were always dangerous with ball in hand and they never looked back after opening up an early 12-0 lead.
Craven combined with his experienced half-back partner Kevin Brown to get second rower Danny Galea over for the first try on 11 minutes and Brown then twisted his way over for an opportunist score five minutes later.
Salford's biggest threat came from England second rower Gareth Hock, who created their first scoring opportunity after being put through a gap on halfway by Rangi Chase.
The Widnes defence scrambled to halt the move but there was no stopping Hock from 10 metres out on 25 minutes as he took Logan Tomkins' pass to charge over for the Red Devils' first try.
The visitors lost Galea with a leg injury but a Craven 40-20 put them into a superb scoring position and they duly extended their lead five minutes before the break when Hanbury scythed through for his second try.
Danny Tickle kicked his third conversion to make it 18-4 and he was also on target early in the second half when Hanbury scored his second try.
Brown set up the position by intercepting Chase's pass 20 metres from his own line and Hanbury won the race to Craven's accurate kick to the Salford line.
Salford grabbed a lifeline when Chase combined with Francis Meli to get centre Junior Sau over for a 55th-minute try but Tommy Lee was off target for the second time with the conversion attempt to leave his side trailing by three
The try spurred the Red Devils into producing their best spell of the match, with Meli twice going close to scoring before prop Lama Tasi's powerful run earned him his first try for the club six minutes from the end.
Lee kicked his first goal and the deficit was down to just four points when Eden's run from deep got Hock over for his second try two minutes later.
Chase forced a goal-line drop-out and Meli was inches away from levelling the scores before Widnes substitute Lloyd White swooped on a loose ball in the final minute to scoot away for a fifth try, with Jack Owens kicking the goal.
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