A nervous night for both Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings was in store after the last few months poor league form. The visitors last victory came in March ironically against Salford at the Select Security Stadium, or Naughton Park for those old enough to recall.
Recent player movement between the two sides added extra spice. Defeat for Widnes would surely put an end to their fading top eight chance. A win for Salford would keep them on the tails of Huddersfield and Catalan. If ever there was a must win game then this was it!
The Vikings made the perfect start Joe Mellor’s crafting kick through wasn’t dealt with by Ryan Lannon allowing Tom Gilmore to pounce.
Kris Welham who was excellent all night for The Red Devil’s raced away after charging a kick down to score a well deserved try. Robert Lui failed to convert from a difficult angle leaving the visitors with a slender 4-6 lead.
Salford were then denied a try by the video referee but moments later hit the front. Lui’s clever pass sending Welham over for his second try.
Unfortunately for Lui his conversion attempt hit the post. 8-6.
Welham was then very harshly sin binned by referee James Child. The Vikings made the extra man count almost instantly. A pin point kick for Patrick Ah Van to swoop over. Gilmore added the goal.
Both sides defended superbly for the remainder of the first half, Widnes however held on to lead 8-12 at the break.
After losing Mark Flanagan and Josh Jones to injury at Hull last week, Lee Mossop picked up a knock in the week to rule him out. Salford’s small squad was left lighter still when Tyrone McCarthy went off struggling. To add to that young Jake Shorrocks picked up a nasty head injury failing his concussion assessment.
The Red Devil’s now had to dig in and there resolve would certainly be tested.
A tremendous piece of play from Lui and Jack Littlejohn paved the way for Jake Bibby to squeeze in at the corner to level the scores. Lui again failed to convert with the scores now locked at 12-12 despite Salford scoring three tries to two.
Then the game was turned on it’s head. Debutant Greg Burke charged through like a freight train. He wasn’t to be denied crashing over under the posts to put Salford back in front.
In recent weeks mistakes and errors have been The Red Devil’s biggest downfall. On the very next set after Burke’s try George Griffin spilled the ball deep in his own half. Excellent defence on the edges forced Charlie Runcimen in to touch much to the relief of the home supporters.
Widnes became a little frustrated and when Junior Sau copped a high shot the crowd and Ian Watson roared to take the two points on offer. Lui duly obliged.
With the game entering the final ten minutes Widnes forward Chris Houston was sin binned. After being shown the yellow card the Australian decided to give referee Child a round of applause. Mr Child didn’t take kindly to this calling Houston back to show him a red card for dissent.
Robert Lui made the game safe late on charging a kick down to sprint to the line for a deserved try.
Ian Watson was a relieved man after the game and it was nice to see a smile on his face after a tough run of results. With the adversity the club have faced on and off the pitch this season Ian was delighted with the spirit his side have shown.
Salford now have a two week break to recover before a trip to high flyers Warrington Wolves.
Final score Salford 26 Widnes 12.