Mark Calderwood led the way with his first four-try haul for Leeds as the champions ran riot in the second half yesterday to be the only team in Super League with a perfect record after three rounds.
Widnes, fresh from a morale-boosting victory over Bradford last week, were swept aside after trailing by only 10 points at the break. An inspired spell, when every pass seemed to stick, brought Leeds seven tries in the first 23 minutes of the second half - all of them converted by Kevin Sinfield.
"That second half was the first time this year that we've kicked into gear, and really felt pleased with what we were doing,'' said the Leeds coach, Tony Smith. "I'd like to see more purple patches like that, but these things happen in rugby league now when one team gets on a roll.''
There was no sign of that unstoppable momentum in a well-balanced first half, with Widnes even taking an early lead through Aaron Moule's acrobatic pass to Andrew Emelio.
Calderwood, showing the sort of form that will surely earn him Great Britain consideration this year, began to wreak havoc after that with two quick tries which owed much to the strength of Chev Walker alongside him.
Ali Lauitiiti and Gareth Ellis, with his first try for the club after Gary Hulse significantly failed to find touch with a penalty, got over before half-time. Two penalties kept Widnes just about in touch.
Leeds began to cut loose straight after the interval when some dazzling handling set up Marcus Bai. The tries came thick and fast after that with Ellis's second, one from Barry McDermott and two each from Calderwood and Rob Burrow, relishing a chance to start a game in the absence of Danny McGuire.
"Rob was scary today,'' said Smith "I felt sorry for a couple of people when he was running straight at them.'' One of Burrow's two tries involved beating the former Great Britain full-back Gary Connolly with embarrassing ease, and there were plenty of other missed tackles as Widnes were reduced to chasing shadows.
"They played some of the best rugby league I've seen in a long time, in the second half; but I honestly believe we allowed them to do that,'' said the Widnes coach, Frank Endercott. "Our personal defence was disgraceful.''
After a relatively quiet last quarter, Willie Poching completed the rout, with Sinfield landing his ninth goal. Apart from the mathematical damage, Widnes also lost their captain, Shane Millard, with a suspected broken jaw, to round off a miserable afternoon.
Leeds: Mathers; Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai; Sinfield, Burrow; Bailey, Dunemann, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, McKenna, Ellis. Substitutes used: McDermott, McDonald, Boching, Lauitiiti.
Widnes: Connolly; Emelio, Moule, Whittle, Rowlands; Craigie, Hulse; O'Connor, Millard, Whitaker, Cassidy, Stankevich, Frame. Substitutes used: Finnigan, O'Neill, Fa'alogo, Smith.
Referee: R Silverwood (Muirfield).
* The London Broncos secured their biggest-ever win in Super League after they beat the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 72-8 at their Griffin Park home yesterday. The Broncos ran in 12 tries - six in each half - as the previously undefeated Wildcats, who beat Bradford and Wigan in their first two games, were comprehensively outplayed.
* Three players are to appear before a Rugby Football League inquiry on 9 March accused of drug-related offences. Ryan Hudson, the England international forward signed by Bradford Bulls from relegated Castleford Tigers this winter, is to be charged with taking the steroid stanozolol; Danny Williams, the Australian forward recruited by the London Broncos but still midway through an 18-game suspension for striking an opponent, has been charged with refusing to take a drugs test; and Ged Corcoran, formerly with Halifax but now playing in France with Limoux, was charged with taking ephedrine.Reuse content