Salford stun

Official English Super League Round 20 game report - Friday 8 July 2005. Full time: Salford 34 Widnes 16.

Salford stun Widnes

Luke Robinson produced an inspirational performance as Salford edged closer to engage Super League safety by beating Widnes 34-16.

The 20-year-old half-back released by Wigan last year was outstanding as the Reds overpowered struggling Widnes in a ?four-pointer? at The Willows.

Robinson was at the heart of much of six-try Salford?s work as the Reds burst into life to take charge of a tense encounter late in the first half.

Widnes briefly threatened a fightback as they fought back from 24-0 down with three tries but two touchdowns from David Hodgson sealed the home side?s victory.

The win put Salford five points clear of the Vikings, who remain in the bottom two and now face a crucial clash with Wakefield next week.

Defences dominated early on but there were chances at either end in a scoreless opening half hour before Salford finally claimed the lead.

Widnes twice went close in the opening minutes but Mick Cassidy knocked on on both occasions and a dangerous Owen Craigie kick ran dead.

Cassidy did later touch down after Sala Fa?alogo knocked back a high ball but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Robinson engineered two openings for the Reds but Stuart Littler and Andy Coley both failed to take passes from the lively scrum-half.

The deadlock was finally broken on 30 minutes when the home side mounted a sustained attack and Littler crashed over on the right.

A bad kick-off from Jules O?Neill put Widnes straight back under pressure and Ian Sibbit forced his way through for the second try just four minutes later.

The Vikings were suddenly reeling and a third try followed just before the break as Robinson kicked forward, got the ball back via a smart flick from Karl Fitzpatrick and raced under the posts.

Chris Charles converted all three tries to give Salford a healthy 18-0 lead at half-time. Widnes needed to strike early in the second half to get back into the game but Salford continued to defend vigourously and full-back Fitzpatrick produced a superb tackle to deny Jon Whittle over the line.

The Vikings paid for their failure to score as the superb Robinson seemingly put the game beyond their reach by creating a brilliant fourth Reds try.

The Great Britain hopeful could not be halted as he weaved his way through the Vikings rearguard and sent Hodgson clear down the touchline.

Charles again converted to make it 24-0 but Widnes were not finished and gave themselves hope with two tries in five minutes.

Whittle claimed their first after brushing aside a Hodgson tackle and Simon Finnigan followed up when Craigie?s kick bounced nicely for him to score.

O?Neill?s double conversion reduced the deficit to 12 points but Gareth Haggerty put paid to any hopes of a comeback when he muscled over under the posts 13 minutes from time.

Gray Viane squeezed over in the corner for a third Widnes score but Hodgson had the final say with a 50-metre interception try.

Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Sibbit, Smith, Beverley, Robinson, Rutgerson, Alker, Highton, Shipway, McAvoy, Charles. Replacements: Coley, Haggerty, Baldwin, Hartley.

Widnes: Holmes, Emelio, Whittle, Fa-alogo, Viane, Craigie, J. O?Neill, O?Connor, Smith, Stankevitch, Cassidy, Millard, Finnigan. Replacements: Hulse, Whitaker, Frame, Mills.

Salford (18) 34. Tries: Littler, Sibbit, Robinson, Hodgson 2, Haggerty. Goals: Charles 5.

Widnes (0) 16. Tries: Whittle, Finnigan, Viane. Goals: J. O?Neill 2.

Referee: Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley) Att: 4,507

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