Salford Red Devils earned a convincing 36-8 victory over Widnes Vikings tonight at the AJ Bell Stadium to move into fourth place in the Super League table.
Salford were without halfback Theo Fages, who was starting a two-match ban for foul play in their round 6 defeat by Castleford.
Hooker Liam Hood was selected on the bench for the Red Devils, while Kiwi fullback Kevin Locke returned to action, replacing Niall Evalds, while backrower Cory Paterson and centre Mason Caton-Brown were also back in the side, with Jordan Walne absent from the squad after suffering an eye injury last week, and Carl Forster, who joined the Red Devils from St Helens in the close season, making his debut on the bench.
The Vikings come into the game with some significant injury absentees. Second-rowers Danny Tickle (groin) and Danny Galea (concussion) were both unavailable, as was winger Patrick Ah Van (concussion), but Chris Dean and Eamon O’Carroll both returned to the Vikings squad after injuries.
The Red Devils started the game strongly, taking the lead when Ben Jones-Bishop touched down a clever kick by Rangi Chase into the in-goal, with Josh Griffin converting.
And when Weller Hauraki touched down Michael Dobson’s kick, with Griffin again converting, the omens looked good for the Red Devils.
And it looked even better after 30 minutes, when Greg Johnson took a superb long pass by Chase to score in the corner, but this time Griffin couldn’t convert, although the Vikings appeared to be under pressure when Stefan Marsh was sinbinned just before Johnson’s try.
But the Vikings staged a remarkable recovery while Marsh was off the field.
First, Paddy Flynn was over in the corner from a nice pass by Rhys Hanbury, with Jack Owens converting, and just before the interval Owens converted a penalty to make it 16-8 at half-time.
But the Vikings couldn’t sustain their challenge in the second-half, as Salford scored three more tries from Lama Tasi, Josh Griffin, Cory Paterson and Scott Taylor, with Griffin converting three of them.
It was undoubtedly the Red Devils’ best performance of the season, with Rangi Chase and Michael Dobson combining superbly at halfback, Cory Paterson having an outstanding game in the pack, and Liam Hood showing great promise when he came off the bench.
A full report and photos will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.