Hadley seals Widnes' week

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The Independent Online

Widnes 36

Sheffield Eagles 18

The side that needed the points most got them, as Widnes completed their best week of a difficult season.

Without a League win since early October, they have now grabbed two invaluable victories within four days, following their midweek win over Workington by scoring 28 points without reply to turn a losing position into a winning one yesterday.

Sheffield, relatively comfortable in mid-table, would rather win the Challenge Cup-tie between the same two sides at the Don Valley Stadium next Sunday.

In the second half, at any rate, that was the way it looked. The better side in the first half, once they had recovered from the novelty of a John Devereux try at Naughton Park - his first of a miserable and injury- ravaged 15 months - they took an 18-8 lead with a try from Paul Broadbent and a 70-yard move finished off in style by Lynton Stott.

It was an entirely different story after the break, with Widnes shaking off any weariness from the Workington match to run away with the game.

Although it was a sight for sore Widnes eyes to see Devereux back in action, it was their other remaining Welshman, Adrian Hadley, who had the bigger effect on the outcome.

Apart from scoring Widnes' last try, Hadley also landed eight goals from nine attempts to enjoy his most productive afternoon since joining the club.

The young stand-off, Karle Hammond, also had an important hand in the turn of events, scoring the first of Widnes' four second-half tries with an incisive break after a scrum win and then giving Craig Makin a touchdown two minutes after coming on as a substitute with a well-placed kick.

Hammond then scored again from Steve McCurrie's short kick as Widnes exploited a Sheffield weakness behind their own line, before Hadley set the seal on his contribution.

The sin-binning of David Hulme in the last minute did nothing to detract from a week that will lift Widnes' morale immeasurably during the struggle that still lies ahead. For Sheffield, there is the luxury of telling themselves that it is the Cup now that really counts.

Widnes: G Broadbent; Smith, Devereux, Wright, Hadley; Hammond D Hulme; Ireland (Ruane, 64), McCurrie, Hansen (Makin, 50), O'Neill, Myler, P Hulme.

Sheffield Eagles: Lucchese; Senior (Young, 67), Gamson, Price, Stott; Briggs, Sheridan; P Broadbent (Glancy, 71), Jackson (Turner, 37), Glancy (Jackson, 52), Hughes, Cook, Powell.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).