The only all Super League clash in the Qualifiers this weekend comes on Sunday as Widnes face Salford. The Vikings have only lost one match out of five so their position in Super League is pretty much confirmed. However, the Red Devils, who won last week against a solid Sheffield side, need to win every game to confirm their automatic status as a Super League side and not have to go through the trauma of the Million Pound Game.
Last Time Out
Widnes had a rather simple evening at the office in West Yorkshire against Wakefield. Their 46-4 triumph over the Wildcats was never in any doubt, especially as they were 22-0 up after the first 40 minutes. Rhys Hanbury crossed the whitewash on two occasions, fellow Vikings Aaron Heremaia and Lloyd White scored a try apiece. Hanbury completed his hat-trick after the restart, just before chief playmaker Kevin Brown turned into the try-scorer. Lee Smith made sure Wakefield wouldn’t end the day on a blank but Denis Betts’ Widnes side kept their intensity going which resulted in two more tries before the close of play. Hanbury swooped in for his fourth try before Paddy Flynn touched down.
Salford had a tricky encounter with Sheffield at the AJ Bell Stadium. A 53-34 win is as wacky as it sounds, non-existent defences mixed with inventive attacking play made the game a very entertaining one. Weller Hauraki started the scoring in the fourth minute but three tries without reply for the visitors gave a perfect signal that a shock could well be on the cards. Cory Aston, Menzie Yere and Quentin Laulu-Togagae all notched four-pointers as the Eagles took centre stage. Harrison Hansen and Rob Worrincy then exchanged a score each for the hosts and visitors respectively. In the space of 12 minutes came four tries for Salford, who went into half-time with a ten point advantage. Josh Griffin struck twice for the Red Devils before the half was out, Liam Hood and Lama Tasi went over the Eagles try-line for the other tries. Duane Straugheir’s try after 44 minutes put Sheffield on the right track as they cut the deficit by four points. Niall Evalds responded for Salford before Scott Turner made it a one score game once again with 12 minutes to go. Michael Dobson slotted over a drop-goal before Iain Thornley and George Griffin both got on the scoresheet. A slip-up looked likely at one stage for Salford but they had enough nous to avoid a second Qualifiers defeat.
Michael Dobson was at the centre of everything good in attack for Salford last weekend and that will probably be the case again in round six. The former Newcastle Knights half-back will go head-to-head with Kevin Brown, the usual centrepiece of Widnes’ forceful attack. The battle between the brains of each side will definitely intrigue, and it’s sure to be one to watch.
As previously mentioned, if the Red Devils manage to take the spoils in this one then the top three is decided due to Widnes having a really good points difference. Every game in the Qualifiers can be classed as ‘must-win’ but it’s certain the winner of this tie will breath a huge sigh of relief that they don’t have to potentially go through the Million Pound Game – Widnes by 20