O'Connor's water antics leaves Widnes in the mire

Widnes 6 - Salford 22
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Much of Widnes' Super League life could have trickled away in a bizarre incident that cost them any chance of a desperately needed victory yesterday.

Much of Widnes' Super League life could have trickled away in a bizarre incident that cost them any chance of a desperately needed victory yesterday.

The whole match hinged upon a clash between their experienced prop, Terry O'Connor, and Salford's Kevin McGuinness after 17 minutes. O'Connor dropped a difficult low pass from Shane Millard, McGuiness said something and O'Connor responded by piling into his opponent.

After the two were separated, and when the referee Ashley Klein was trying to sort the matter out, O'Connor sprayed McGuinness with the contents of his water bottle, thus making absolutely sure that he would be sin-binned.

"It's not in his game, and I don't know why it happened, but it was certainly costly to his team," the Widnes coach, Frank Endacott said.

That was something of an understatement. Within a minute of O'Connor going off, Salford had moved the ball across the field and found the Widnes defence short-handed enough for Stuart Littler to score.

Four minutes later they were caught out in similar circumstances, for Littler to go over again. Although O'Connor was back on the field by the time of Salford's third try, Widnes were still reorganising when Chris Charles kicked through and Luke Robinson picked up the ball and rolled nimbly over the line.

"They scored three tries after I went off so I blame myself to a large extent," said O'Connor, normally one of the more even-tempered of forwards. "I shouldn't have reacted but sometimes in the heat of battle you're not level-headed."

O'Connor tried desperately hard to make amends after his return, but the damage had been done.

Widnes badly needed to score first in the second half, but instead made a string of handling errors that invited Salford to finish them off. They did so just before the hour when Robinson intercepted Gary Hulse's pass to race away for his second try, Charles completing their scoring with the conversion and a penalty.

There was some hollow consolation for O'Connor when he scored Widnes' only try from Hulse's kick, but as he admitted it was his expensive error that will be remembered.

"That was a dreadful performance and I'm not going to make any excuses," said Endacott of a team that was only spared the indignity of dropping into bottom place by Hull's late equaliser at Leigh. "At least Leigh are playing with a bit of fire in their bellies, which is more than I can say about our squad."

By contrast, Salford seem headed for mid-table respectability. Their coach Karl Harrison believes they have more to offer in attack, but said: "Defensively we were sensational."

Widnes: Connolly; Emelio, Viane, Moule, Barnett; Myler, Hulse; O'Connor, Millard, Whitaker, Cassidy, Frame, Finnigan. Substitutes used:: Mills, Stankevitch, Fa'alogo, Smith.

Salford:: Hodgson; Langi, Littler, McGuinness, Stewart; Beverley, Robinson; Stringer, Alker, Rutgerson, Coley, Sibbit, Charles. Substitutes used:: Haggerty, Dickens, Shipway, Clough.

Referee:: A Klein (London).

¿ Super League's bottom club, Leigh, gave Hull a scare yesterday. Hull led 18-0 midway through the first half, but Leigh fought back and led 22-18 in the closing stages until Nathan Blacklock's late try salvaged a draw for Hull.