Widnes RLFC

28th Feb 2016 - Huddersfield (A)

28th Feb 2016 (Season: 2016)
Huddersfield (A)
Dean Marsh 2 Runciman Leuluai Thompson 2
Hanbury 4
Drop Goals: 

Match Report

Resurgent Widnes cruised to a first away win over Huddersfield for 20 years as they went top of the First Utility Super League.

The Vikings, who finished in the bottom four last season, needed to win by seven points to leapfrog neighbours Warrington and assume pole position, and reached they their target with ease, with wingers Stefan Marsh and Corey Thompson scoring four of their seven tries in a 36-18 rout of their injury-hit hosts.

Former Huddersfield captain Kevin Brown was at the heart of another impressive display from Denis Betts' men, who thrashed champions Leeds a fortnight ago and have now won more away games in their first four games than they managed throughout the 23-game regular season in 2015.

The result leaves Huddersfield pointless at the foot of the table alongside Leeds, their next opponents at Headingley on Friday, and their misery was compounded by the loss of scrum-half Jamie Ellis to a shoulder injury 24 minutes into the game.

It was plain sailing for the Vikings once second rower Chris Dean took a pass from Chris Bridge to go over for the game's first try on 11 minutes.

That came after Brown's grubber kick forced a goal-line drop-out and a 40-20 kick then set up the position for Marsh to score the first of his two tries, courtesy of Brown's cut-out pass.

It went from bad to worse for Huddersfield when full-back Aaron Murphy fumbled Brown's high kick to gift a try to centre Charly Runciman and Widnes would have been out of sight had Bridge been able to take the final pass after scrum-half Joe Mellor's clean break.

The loss of Ellis, the Giants' key man in the absence of skipper Danny Brough, forced a reshuffle, with hooker Kruise Leeming forming a makeshift half-back partnership with Jake Connor, but a 32nd-minute try from second rower Michael Lawrence, converted by trialist Jamie Foster, briefly gave the home side hope.

That was snuffed out in the moments before half-time when Huddersfield substitute Nathan Mason was sin-binned by whistle-happy referee James Child following a team warning and Widnes took advantage of the extra man with second rower Magraff Leuluai forcing his way over from close range for his side's fourth try.

Leading 22-6 at the break, the Vikings put the game to bed with two further tries inside the first seven minutes of the second half.

Runciman created the space for Marsh to score his second try and Thompson got in on the act after taking Bridge's pass for his fifth try of the season.

Rhys Hanbury took his goal tally to four from six attempts and, although Huddersfield pulled a try back through loose forward Larne Patrick, Thompson went on to score his second of the match - his sixth of the season - and had two others disallowed as their domination continued to the end.

The Giants finished a badly-beaten side but at least they had the final say when Connor's cut-out pass enabled Foster to score a consolation try. He also kicked a third conversion.

Widnes coach Denis Betts watched his side go top of the table with their first win at Huddersfield since the advent of Super League and warned the real test will come as they battle to stay there over the next month.

The Vikings, who finished in the bottom four in 2015, made it three wins from their first four games with a 36-18 triumph over the injury-hit Giants at the John Smith's Stadium.

"We've not won here for 20 years and it was a great overall performance," Betts said. "There are things in there we can do better - Joe Mellor was finding ways not to score a try.

"The lads are really made up with the fact we've been away from home three times and we've come out with six points from four games. We would have taken that early in the year.

"This next month the games are going to be coming thick and fast and it will be a real test for us. It becomes a war of attrition and the squad gets tested.

"It's nice (to be top) at this stage, we've made a really good start but we've got to make sure we get a bit more ruthless."

Wingers Corey Thompson and Stefan Marsh scored two tries apiece, with Australian Thompson taking his tally to six in just four Super League appearances to become an early fans' favourite.

"It's exciting when he gets the ball in his hands," Betts said. "Fans hold their breath and, when he gets one on one, he's going to score a try.

"It's nice to have that on both sides. We're blessed for wingers. Patrick Ah Van is close to returning and Paddy Flynn is knocking down walls to try and get in the side."

The result leaves Huddersfield without a point and above bottom of the table Leeds only on points difference as they prepare to take on the reigning champions at Headingley in their next match on Friday.

"Historically that's a top-three game but both teams have copped some injuries and it will be a survival of the fittest," said Giants coach Paul Anderson. "Let's see who can throw out the healthiest team."

Huddersfield went into the game without eight members of their 25-man squad through injury and they lost scrum-half Jamie Ellis with a shoulder injury after just 24 minutes which will almost certainly rule him out of Friday's game.

Anderson expects Danny Brough, Eorl Crabtree, Joe Wardle and Kyle Wood to return within the next fortnight but, more importantly, is hoping for an improvement in his players' attitude.

"Three quarters of our salary cap have watched today," he said. "One or two might have a chance for Friday but we've got to battle on. The key is to stick together.

"I thought Widnes were very good we were poor and pretty soft if I'm honest.

"It was the same team (that almost beat Wigan) but our attitude was not quite right today. If your attitude is not right, you get challenged and Widnes did that. They ran harder than us and they had more vigour in everything they did.

"I've just congratulated Denis because they got what they deserved. We got what we deserved.

"In the first half we completed at 60 per cent, gave away seven penalties and had a man in the bin, that tells the whole story."

Source: Sporting Life