Widnes Vikings 38
Tries: Ah Van 2, Galea, Brown 3, Marsh
Goals: Owens 5/7
Sin bin: Phelps (fighting)
Salford Red Devils 16
Tries: Paterson, Johnson, Jones-Bishop
Goals: J. Griffin 2/3
Sent off: Darrell Griffin (high tackle)
Sin bin: Josh Griffin (fighting)
Widnes Vikings’ skipper Kevin Brown led his side to victory in the opening game of the 2015 Magic Weekend, as they defeat Salford Red Devils 38-16.
Brown grabbed a hat-trick of tries and was outstanding in all aspects of the game, with a true captain’s performance in a crucial battle in terms of this year’s race for the top 8.
Darrell Griffin was sent off for a high tackle at the end of the first period in what was an emotional game for him and his brothers following the death of their father.
Salford took the lead against the run of play, as Kevin Brown’s knock on saw the Red Devils in the Vikings’ half for the first time and they took full advantage. Ben Jones-Bishop did well to stay in the field of play before finding Junior Sau, who then offloaded to the supporting Corey Paterson as he scored the opening try of Magic Weekend after 11 minutes.
Widnes hit back four minutes later as Macgraff Leuluai forced a knock on and with the resulting set they were over, as a trademark Brown cut out ball sent Patrick Ah Van over out wide to level the scores.
Leuluai forced another error as Salford struggled to get out of their own danger area and they used their good field position to go in front after 19 minutes. Lloyd White found Danny Galea with a flat pass from dummy half and the forward bulldozed his way over from close range, with Jack Owens’ conversion making it 10-4.
Widnes then went close again as a great sweeping move saw Owens break down the wing before a brilliant try saving tackle from Nial Evalds stopped him in his tracks.
There was no stopping Ah Van getting his second after 28 minutes though as Aaron Heremaia’s clever dummy half move saw the winger stroll over for a four pointer.
Seven minutes later the Vikings were over again as Brown dummied his way through the Salford defence to dive over under the posts, with Owens’ conversion giving them a commanding 20-4 lead.
With a minute of the half remaining things got worse for the Red Devils as Darrell Griffin was red carded for a high tackle on young Widnes forward Matt Whitley, as they ended the half with 12 men and 20-4 down.
Widnes took advantage of their man advantage three minutes into the second period as Brown dummied his way over for a second try and Owens knocked over the conversion, as the Vikings extended their lead to 26-4.
The 12 men of Salford hit back three minutes later as Rhys Hanbury couldn’t take Theo Fages’ high bomb before their second phase of play ended with Jones-Bishop’s flick pass setting Greg Johnson free down the wing, with the wide man reaching out to score. Josh Griffin converted from the touchline to cut the deficit to 26-10.
12 minutes later the Red Devils were right back into it as Whitley knocked on in a dangerous area and Jones-Bishop scooped up the loose to race way and score. Griffin’s conversion made it 26-16.
Widnes stopped the fight back with a try of their own though four minutes later, as the outstanding Brown set Rhys Hanbury free down the middle before backing him up to complete his hat-trick. Owens added the extras for a 16 point advantage.
With ten minutes left on the clock Stefan Marsh added his name to the list of Vikings scorers, as Hanbury found the centre on the right edge and he found a gap to race over. Owens converted well from the touchline to make it 38-16.
There was only two minutes of the game left when Cameron Phelps and Josh Griffin were both sent to the sin-bin for a scuffle in back play, as the Vikings saw out the remainder of the game to cement their place in the top 8 with a 38-16 win.
Nothing But RL man of the match: Widnes Vikings’ skipper Kevin Brown was outstanding throughout and inspired his side to victory with a hat-trick of tries.