Widnes centre Stefan Marsh scored a hat-trick of tries as the Vikings thrashed Super 8 strugglers Sheffield 48-12 on Sunday afternoon.
Two scores in three first-half minutes from the former Wigan man and an easy effort three minutes from time underlined the hosts' dominance. The Vikings ran in six first-half tries in all - Kevin Brown, Charly Runciman, Rhys Hanbury and Danny Galea also touched down - and it could have been a lot more if they had been more clinical.
Joe Mellor, Paddy Flynn and Runciman crossed for home tries after the interval, with Danny Tickle and Lloyd White adding two conversions apiece, while the Eagles' points came courtesy of Scott Turner and Keale Carlile tries and via the boot of Patrick Walker.
Brown was a thorn in the visitors' side throughout and got things ticking over with a walk-in on nine minutes after he connected with his half-back partner Mellor.
Brown then turned provider on 20 minutes with a superb long-range pass to Marsh, who powered home. The same combination struck again two minutes later, with Marsh racing in from 70 metres as the Eagles were caught flat-footed.
It was becoming too easy for Widnes as their forwards punched holes through the heart of the Sheffield defensive line and, when the backs spread the ball wide, the Vikings were queueing up. Australian centre Runciman was the next to benefit with a simple touchdown.
Just after the half-hour mark, Widnes were over again as Mellor's break put Hanbury clear.
The try-scoring procession continued when Brown put the rampaging second-row Galea through a gaping hole.
Sheffield's attacks were few and far between. Menzie Yere did go close after five minutes but it took another 35 for them to mount another effort. Dominic Brambani launched a towering kick to the corner and it was collected by Turner to at least put them on the scoreboard.
Things did not improve much for Mark Aston's Sheffield in the second half as Widnes turned the screw further. Mellor sprinted 95 metres after scooping up a loose ball as the Eagles searched for another score.
The flow was temporarily halted for a serious leg injury to Eagles prop Steve Thorpe. The burly forward was carried off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly in a tackle on the i-pitch.
When play resumed, Widnes started where they had left off. Flynn knocked five defenders out of his way to ground, with White adding the extras from in front to bring up the 40-point marker.
Despite being second best all afternoon, the Eagles kept going and their perseverance was rewarded when Carlile crashed over from close range to give their supporters something to cheer about.
Widnes replied in typical fashion through Marsh, who outpaced his opposite number to dive over in the corner. Runciman had the final say, however, with his second of the afternoon as Marsh's inside ball gave him a walk-in.
Widnes coach Denis Betts was pleased with the cutting edge shown by his side in their 48-12 rout of Super 8 strugglers Sheffield on Sunday afternoon.
Stefan Marsh scored a hat-trick of tries - two in three first-half minutes and an easy effort three minutes from time - with Kevin Brown, Charly Runciman (two), Rhys Hanbury, Danny Galea, Joe Mellor and Paddy Flynn also touching down for the Vikings.
Only four of the 10 tries were converted - two successful efforts apiece from Danny Tickle and Lloyd White - but overall Betts was delighted with his team's ruthlessness.
"I'm satisfied with that," he said. "It was a lot better this week (than last weekend's 14-0 win at Halifax) as we were more clinical. They scored two scrappy tries (through Scott Turner and Keale Carlile), which we should have dealt with, but to be fair to them they took it well. We should have dealt with those scores but it's fish and chip paper now.
"We showed a great desire in wanting to be successful today. We know that points difference might be important and we've nearly hit 50 but it could have well been 60 if we kicked (more of) our conversions. But ultimately it's about winning games. If you win games by good margins you are happy, but winning is important.
"Joe Mellor was great again today. He's a great runner and is hard to stop, but defensively he was outstanding. I'd like to see a little more from him with the ball in hand but I couldn't fault him.
"Kev's assists were outstanding too. He's scored and had a hand in a few.
"We missed the eight by one point and we missed being in the top six by three points. We've got quality in there, so I'm not concerned about our ability to stay in Super League - we know what we can do.
"Stef enjoys playing on the wing and he took his three tries well. We're strengthening in that area at the moment, so there's plenty of competition."
It was not all good news for Widnes, though, with both Macgraff Leuluai and Willie Isa suffering nasty injuries.
"The win does come at a cost - we've lost Macgraff Leuluai with a broken leg and Willie Isa with a medial ligament injury," Betts added. "It's a big blow for us."
Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston, who also lost a player - Steve Thorpe - to a broken leg - felt the outcome of the match would stand his side in good stead in the long run.
"We certainly learned a few lessons today," he said. "We had a dig, but you have to be clinical and we weren't. They scored on 19 minutes and we collapsed. We got ourselves in a pickle and lost our way. We had a chat at half time and we addressed it a little.
"Mistakes can hurt you and we made fair few. I'm disappointed that we didn't show ourselves in the best light. It's the week in, week out stuff and we're not ready for it.
"Steve Thorpe has broken his leg and he's out for the season and pre-season. It's a big blow as he's been one of our best players. Steve did 55 minutes and then we lose him. He's in the hospital now and they'll sort him out. We are waiting on news on him but he's being looked after well.
"The system has given us an opportunity (of Super League) but it's tough for us at this moment in time."
Source: Sporting Life