Widnes Vikings and Catalans Dragons rounded off the opening weekend of the 2018 Betfred Super League season at the Select Security Stadium, with the home side coming away with the spoils.
Widnes Vikings started their 2018 campaign with a hugely impressive 40-12 victory over Catalans Dragons on Sunday afternoon, as they whitewashed their opponents in the second half.
28 unanswered points ensured Denis Betts’ side would come away with a win in a fiery encounter, as the visitors headed home wondering if it would have been a different outcome had they kept their discipline.
The Vikings were deserved winners though, and will be hoping that this is the start of a more successful season.
Sam Moa was sent to the sin-bin just seven minutes in, as he left a late tackle on Joe Mellor right in front of referee Ben Thaler.
With a man advantage, Widnes took the lead as Chris Dean showed brilliant strength to charge over the try line despite the attention of a number of Catalans’ defenders. Tom Gilmore converted, to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.
As Moa returned to the field the visitors replied with a try of their own on 19 minutes, as Luke Walsh’s cut-out ball gave David Mead enough space to crash over out wide. The creator Walsh then added the extras to level the scores at 6-6.
Six minutes later the Dragons were ahead, as Charly Runciman spilled a bomb to give Benjamin Jullien the easiest try of his career, with the Frenchman touching down the loose ball. Walsh converted to give his side a six point advantage.
Lloyd White went close, but the hooker knocked on reaching for the try line, before a brilliant try leveled things up again five minutes from the break. Mellor set Dean free with a clever pass at the line, before backing up his team mate to race under the posts in support. A simple conversion for Gilmore ensured it would be 12-12 at half-time.
The first significant play of the second period was a great break and incredible jinking run from Mellor which saw him go close, before he was hit with his fourth high tackle of the afternoon. He picked himself up to force a goal-line drop out with a last tackle kick though, and from the resulting set the Vikings took the lead again.
Gilmore’s pinpoint kick was plucked out of the air by Krisnan Inu, and the centre touched down for a converted try against his former club on the 50th minute.
In the set which followed from the restart, White broke the line from dummy half before drawing a penalty and Gilmore stepped up to add two points, making it 20-12 to Widnes.
55 minutes in the Vikings extended their lead, as Mellor’s perfectly timed flat pass was raced onto by Dean, with no chance of stopping the back rower picking up his second try of the game. Gilmore once again converted, to make it 26-12.
The home side’s game management got them through the next 20 minutes of the contest, before they crossed for another try nine minutes from time. A cut-out ball to Runciman gave him space, before he offloaded to Patrick Ah Van who touched down in the corner, with Gilmore sending the conversion over from the touchline.
Three minutes later the game was put beyond doubt, as a high kick was knocked back by Inu, before a clever one handed offload from Houston switched play, with Runciman eventually diving over on the left edge.
In the final minute of the game Inu came up with an interception on his own line, before racing into the Catalans half and dropping the ball off to Stefan Marsh who had the pace to finish the break. Inu stepped up to take the conversion, but dragged it wide, as Widnes picked up a hugely impressive 40-12 victory over the Dragons.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Chris Houston, as ever, put in a brilliant shift in both defence and attack, but he was narrowly beaten by Chris Dean. The Vikings forward caused problems all afternoon on the right edge, scoring twice and creating another. He has really come into his own as a second-rower.
WIDNES VIKINGS 40
Tries: Dean (14, 55), Mellor (35), Inu (50), Ah Van (71), Runciman (74), Marsh (80)
Goals: Gilmore 6/7, Inu 0/1
Drop Goals: n/a
Squad: Rhys Hanbury, Patrick Ah Van, Charly Runciman, Krisnan Inu, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore, Jay Chapelhow, Aaron Heremaia, Greg Burke, Chris Dean, Matt Whitley, Chris Houston. Interchanges: Lloyd White, Wellington Albert, Hep Cahill, Tom Olbison.
CATALANS DRAGONS 12
Tries: Mead (19), Jullien (25)
Goals: Walsh 2/2
Drop Goals: n/a
Sin-bin: Sam Moa (7′ late tackle)
Squad: David Mead, Jodie Broughton, Iain Thornely, Brayden Wiliame, Lewis Tierney, Samisoni Langi, Luke Walsh, Sam Moa, Michael McIlorum, Julian Bousquet, Benjamin Jullien, Ben Garcia, Remi Casty. Interchange: Mickael Simon, Antoni Maria, Jason Baitieri, Lucas Albert.