Widnes perch on the brink

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The Independent Online

With the result lifting the City Reds five points clear of the drop zone, Endacott believes Widnes are now locked in a straight battle with Wakefield, whom they face next week, for survival. "It is a major blow," Endacott said. "That was the win we needed to get back on track. Now we have let them off the hook and it is just down to us and Wakefield.

"We have been competing well against the top-six sides, but when we play the teams around us we can't win. I don't know what it is. We had been good in spirit, so to come out with a performance like that is very disappointing."

Widnes were well beaten even though the game had been scoreless until the half-hour mark and they briefly threatened a revival in the second half. Tries from Stuart Littler, Ian Sibbit and the outstanding Luke Robinson put the Reds 18-0 up at half-time as the home side suddenly burst into life just before the interval.

David Hodgson added another after the restart, and although Widnes flickered with scores from Jon Whittle, Simon Finnigan and Gray Viane, the game was always Salford's to lose. Gareth Haggerty forced his way over and Hodgson intercepted late on to ensure the Reds held on for the points.

"We played a very simple and tight gameplan and I thought it worked exceptionally well," said the Salford coach, Karl Harrison, whose side have now won two in succession after finally ending a seven-game losing run.

Injury-hit St Helens moved within one point of the leaders, Leeds, as they avenged their 44-6 hammering by Hull in May with an 18-10 success at Knowsley Road. Saints shrugged off the absence of seven key players to avenge their previous humiliation by John Kear's side and claim a fifth victory in six unbeaten Super League encounters under Daniel Anderson.

The Australian international Jamie Lyon was again the star of the show, and it was his sparkling long-range try after 53 minutes which lit up the game and effectively sealed the points for Saints. Such was the lack of bodies available to Saints that Anderson was forced to pair the 17-year-old Scott Moore at scrum-half and Ian Hardman, 19, at stand-off to form an untried teenage half-back partnership.

"Once again, it was just a tremendous team and club performance," said the Saints coach. "I thought Scotty Moore had a brilliant game for a 17-year-old half-back. His decision-making was exceptional, and I thought that we had contributions at various stages from everyone."