Four talking points from Salford Red Devils’ 32-24 win over Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium, as the visitors claimed their third win of the season in the fixture.
The RFL have tried to make every minute matter with the new Super 8’s structure, but what just over 4,000 spectators saw on Friday night at the Select Security Stadium was a game which meant little to both teams. Both sides know their fate for the remainder of the season and it was evident in the performances, with Widnes Vikings guaranteed another year in Super League, while Salford Red Devils will have to fight it out in the Middle 8’s.
There is still something to play for in a way, as final league standings play a part in the make-up of a team’s fixtures for the Super 8’s, but in both side’s case it will make little difference. The Vikings have next to no chance of making the top four and competing for silverware, while the Red Devils should have enough to finish in the top three and secure their top flight status for 2017.
With a lot of the talk pre-game about the battle between Corey Thompson and the returning Justin Carney, it was Mason Caton-Brown who stole the show with his hat-trick on the right edge. He exposed Patrick Ah Van’s poor defence to lead his side to victory, as Salford picked up their third win this season over Widnes. With Robert Lui and Michael Dobson in the halves, Salford served up some good attacking play and troubled the hosts out wide on a number of occasions. Carney, Thompson and Ah Van all found their way over on a good evening for wide men.
What could have been
Salford’s six point deduction has ended their hopes of making the top eight, however they could be sitting in sixth with those points following last night’s victory. They have a strong squad this season, with a mixture of NRL imports and English talent which on it’s day can trouble any side in the division. This could have been the season that the Super League took the Red Devils seriously, but too frequently their credibility is belittled by their off-the-field problems. If they can keep the current squad together then maybe in 2017 we will finally see the Doctor’s side make the top eight.
Widnes’ form had started to return over recent weeks and they were well fancied to get one over on Salford in this one, however they leaked too many points and fell to another defeat. Matt Whitley was the best player in a Vikings shirt and is quickly becoming a fan favourite due to his high work ethic. The young back rower runs his blood to water for his team mates and was rewarded with a try double, as his attacking play is always improving. Whitley’s performances of late could be attracting interest from the bigger clubs in the division, so Denis Betts will be hoping he remains loyal to the Vikings’ cause.
Widnes Vikings 24
Tries: Whitley (16, 61), Ah Van (35), Thompson (76)
Goals: White 3/3, Thompson 1/1
Salford Red Devils 32
Tries: Caton-Brown (3, 54, 78), Carney (27), Jones (67)
Goals: O’Brien 5/6, Dobson 1/1