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First Utility Super League: Leeds Rhinos win at Widnes Vikings
Leeds stand-off Danny McGuire ran in two tries as the Rhinos were made to battle all the way by a valiant Widnes during a 38-28 win at the Select Security Stadium.
The Vikings had no fewer than seven players missing from their starting line-up from the side that faced Hull and Wigan last week.
Kevin Brown, Jon Clarke, Danny Tickle and Jack Owens were among those absent, meaning it was always going to be a tough afternoon for the home side facing a Leeds side keen to put right their loss to Huddersfield last week.
Conceding more than 100 points in their last two games was not the ideal preparation for the Vikings either, but they led 16-10 at the break against a full-strength Leeds line-up that welcomed back star hooker Paul Aiton after his recovery from illness.
Kallum Watkins got Leeds ticking over after only three minutes as he got the better of the Vikings' left-edge defence. Kevin Sinfield could not add the extras from the touchline but he made amends minutes later with an easy conversion from in front after Ben Jones-Bishop cut through to give McGuire an easy score.
Widnes got back into it on 20 minutes as the impressive Rhys Hanbury sent in Chris Dean, who finished off a sweeping Vikings move.
Patrick Ah Van knocked over an excellent conversion from the sideline and Widnes were in again 10 minutes later as Ryan Hall made a mess of Danny Craven's towering kick after good pressure from Paddy Flynn and Hanbury touched down.
Ah Van converted and he got in on the try-scoring act himself right on the hooter from Danny Craven's kick.
Widnes deserved their 16-10 interval lead but that was about the best it got as the Rhinos surged ahead with two tries in three minutes from Sinfield and Liam Sutcliffe.
Hall then set up Tom Briscoe after a powerful run on 62 minutes to put Leeds in the driving seat before McGuire stretched their lead further.
Widnes got one back through substitute hooker Grant Gore but Leeds hit back through substitute Josh Walters. Sinfield added the extras to wrap the game up ith four minutes left.
There was still time for returning scrum-half Joe Mellor to race the full length for the Vikings, to cap off a decent personal effort after 14 weeks out, but it was merely a consolation.
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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