Rugby League: Devereux adds dash of class

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The Independent Online
Widnes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Leeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

A HARD-EARNED victory, Widnes' fifth on the trot in the league, made it an unhappy return to his old club for the Leeds coach, Doug Laughton, last night.

For all their increased enthusiasm, Leeds will continue to slip towards the foot of the table unless they can put some wins together while Widnes are showing that there is life after the loss of so many of their leading players.

In a first half that was scoreless but far from dour, Leeds dropped hints that they might convert the fitful encouragements they had given their long-suffering fans over the past couple of weeks into something more substantial.

Francis Cummins, one of a number of young reserves given a chance ahead of schedule by Leeds' injury problems, was on his way to the try- line as early as the first minute when stopped by Stuart Spruce's perfect tackle.

Cummins also made the other eye-catching run of the half 20 minutes later, released by Kevin Iro, finally playing like a man who has heard the news that his contract is up at the end of the season, but again being stopped in full stride.

Widnes had their fair share of the match territorially, but wasted too much possession with careless handling.

Their best chance came five minutes before the break when Jason Donohue knocked on from Bobby Goulding's miscued penalty attempt, but Goulding wasted the subsequent attacking position with an ill-judged grubber kick.

Paul Moriarty, back from the latest horrendous series of injuries, pointed Widnes in the right direction at the start of the second half with a surging run upfield. His side never lost that momentum and three minutes later opened the scoring when John Devereux took Goulding's beautiful short pass to score what was, astonishingly, his first try at Naughton Park for seven months.

Six minutes later and after Widnes, through David Myers, had again broken from deep in their own half, Gary Mercer tackled Moriarty high and Goulding added a penalty to his conversion.

Widnes threatened to run away with the match until Mercer sent Iro striding 60 yards for a try, converted by Cummins, to open it up once more. Leeds could not apply the pressure in the last quarter that could have brought them only their second win in 10 games.

Widnes: Spruce; Myers, Devereux, Hammond, Hadley; Tyrer, Goulding; (Davidson, 64), P Hulme, Howe (Moriarty, 28; Ireland, 70), Faimalo, Smith, D Hulme.

Leeds: Tait; Fallon, Iro, Cummins, Scales; Vassilakopoulos, Donohue; O'Neill (Schultz, 22; Scott, 25), Lowes, Rose (O'Neill, 43), Mercer, Eyres, Hanley.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).