Leeds 42-22 Widnes: Kallum Watkins stars in Rhinos win
Last Updated: 17/04/17 5:56pm
Kallum Watkins scored 22 points with two tries and seven goals but Leeds were forced to withstand a fierce second-half fightback to complete a perfect Easter with a 42-22 victory over struggling Widnes.
The Rhinos, who won 52-24 at Hull on Good Friday, ran in five first-half tries to lead 30-6 at the break, but three unanswered scores from the Vikings set up a tense finale.
Leeds' sixth win in their last seven games ensured that they stay hard on the heels of Betfred Super League leaders Castleford, albeit the Tigers have a game in hand. Widnes, still with just one win in their first 10 games, remain rooted to the foot of the table. It was Leeds' first success over their Cheshire rivals in four games between the sides, dating back to February 2015.
Matt Parcell and Joel Moon also claimed a brace of tries for the Rhinos, while Tom Gilmore grabbed two tries and three goals for the visitors.
Leeds got off to the perfect start as Watkins continued his extraordinary run of scoring against Widnes, rising to catch a Danny McGuire cross-field kick and go between the posts - the eighth consecutive match against the Vikings in which he has scored at least one try.
Shortly afterwards fortune favoured the hosts as another McGuire kick bounced back off the upright and into the arms of Parcell, who gratefully strode over to help make it 12-0.
And only a magnificent tackle to hold up Adam Cuthbertson prevented a third quick-fire Rhinos try but, as Widnes continued to heap more pressure on themselves through handling errors, Moon capitalised by diving over to keep his side scoring at a point a minute.
Gilmore steadied a rocking Vikings' ship by dummying his way over then converting his own try, but normal service was soon resumed for the hosts when Ryan Hall was set free down the left before the return pass gave Moon his second try of the game and eighth of the season.
Tom Briscoe then skipped his way down the blindside of some poor defence to score Leeds' fifth try of the half with stand-in goal kicker Watkins keeping up his 100% record with the boot to send the Rhinos in at half-time with a seemingly comfortable 24-point cushion..
A scrappy start the second period broke the Rhinos' rhythm and Gilmore converted his second try just before the hour mark to provide the Vikings with some hope.
Chris Houston turned that into possible belief when taking an offload from Owen Farnworth to score again with 18 minutes left and it was a different ball game with Leeds suddenly under the kosh.
Corey Thompson then scored in the corner and, although Gilmour missed his first conversion in four attempts, the visitors were suddenly only eight points adrift.
But Watkins crashed over for his second try of the game and added the conversion to settle any home nerves before Parcell completed the scoring in the dying seconds.