Rugby League: Widnes turn on style

Widnes . . .38

Salford. . .22

WIDNES showed enough of the style that has taken them to the Challenge Cup final and third place in the League table when Salford obligingly fell apart after a bright start at Naughton Park last night, writes Dave Hadfield.

Widnes, looking for a 14th unbeaten match to keep them in trim for Wembley in five weeks, were pushed back by a lively Salford start that produced several try-scoring chances but not a single point.

It was completely against the run of play when Widnes took the lead in memorable fashion in the 27th minute. John Devereux, moved to centre for the injured Andy Currier, burst through the middle, beating four men on a 60-yard run. When he was finally caught by Phil Ford, Bobby Goulding arrived in support to score.

Within five minutes, Widnes were comfortably ahead when Goulding's clever pass sent Richie Eyers charging over, and Devereux soon had another chance to show his speed when he intercepted Steve Blakeley's long pass and went 75 yards to score himself.

All three tries were improved by Jonathan Davies to give Widnes 18 points in nine minutes. Right on half-time Goulding switched play intelligently to send David Hulme burrowing over and Davies was once more on target.

The livewire Goulding created yet another try, this time for David Hulme with a precise kick and regather and a perfectly timed pass, before the hard-working Mark Lee bustled over to start a late Salford revival.

The former Widnes player, Jason Critchley, and Mark Laurie claimed tries as Widnes became careless, but they had done more than enough in the vital middle section of the game to maintain their impressive run.

Widnes: Spruce; Myers, Devereux, Wright, Sarsfield; Davies, Goulding; H Howard, McCurrie, Ashurst, Eyers, P Hulme, D Hulme.

Salford: Birkett; Evans (Bradshaw, 64), Critchley, T Howard, Ford; Blakeley, Coleman; Young, Lee, Stazicker, Blease, Burgess, Laurie.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).