Rugby League: Widnes run off with spoils

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Widnes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52

WIDNES' well-publicised financial plight has distracted attention from their improved fortunes on the field. The latest victory, in a run of six, however, moved them closer to a Challenge Cup final appearance that would boost their morale and their bank balance.

Widnes outclassed a dreadful Sheffield side to reach the quarter- finals, scoring five tries in each half. Sheffield were always anxious to help and most of the Widnes tries owed something to their opponents' co-operation.

The normally reliable Garry Jack dropped Bobby Goulding's high kick to clear the way for Andy Currier to score the first after only seven minutes. Four minutes later, Goulding and Richie Eyres opened up the defence for Stuart Spruce and Widnes never looked back.

A brilliant pick-up off his toes by Jonathan Davies sent him on a curving run for the third try and Darren Wright crossed twice before half-time, first from Davies's cleverly angled kick and then after the man of the match, Emosi Koloto, ambled through and slipped out a pass at his leisure.

John Devereux's 80-yard interception try from Mick Cook's loose pass started Widnes's second salvo. Spruce skirted round some static defence for his second and Davies dashed down the right wing, defying Jack's tackle, to make it two tries for him as well.

Self-destruction had become a habit for Sheffield by this time. Jack's pass dropped perfectly for Koloto and the supporting Currier had an easy run in for the ninth try.

Sheffield's embarrassment was completed in suitably humiliating style, Devereux shimmying along the flank to leave would-be tacklers punching the turf in frustration at their own incompetence.

Davies and Goulding shared the goal-kicking spoils for Widnes. David Mycoe kicked one long-range effort for Sheffield and Daryl Powell got a smart pass to Mark Gamson for a try just before half time.

But with Powell, ravaged by chicken pox during the week, looking and generally playing like a man who had just walked across the South Pole, those were brief flutterings of the wings in what was otherwise an afternoon of free fall.

Sheffield Eagles: Jack; Gamson, Powell, Mycoe (Laughton, 54), Plange; Price, Afton; Broadbent, Cook (Carr, 72), Laughton (James, 51), Hughes, McGuire, Carr (Lumb, 39).

Widnes: Spruce; Devereux, Currier, Wright, Myers; Davies, Goulding; Sorenson, P Hulme (McCurrie, 34), Faimalo (Marsh, 63), Moriarty, Koloto (Faimalo, 76), Eyres (Koloto, 78).

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

Bradford Northern also reached the quarter-finals courtesy of a penalty try in their 20-18 victory at Wakefield yesterday. The scores were level at 14-14 when the referee ruled that the Northern wing, Tony Marchant, had been obstructed as he went for the ball when it rolled over the Trinity try line. He awarded a try and David Hobbs added the goal. Trinity replied with a try, but missed the kick that would levelled the score.

Wigan's 23-3 Challenge Cup victory over St Helens on Saturday was described by their coach, John Monie, as their best performance of the season.

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