Super League round 16: SALFORD 28 WIDNES 22 at Etihad Stadium, Manchester

By SOPHIE ARNOLD

COACH Brian Noble wasn’t getting carried away with a dramatic Magic Weekend win over Widnes, hauling Salford from the bottom of the Super League pile.

Replacement Jordan James slipped through a clutch of exhausted Vikings defenders to score the match-winning try in Sunday’s opening game for a hard-fought victory.

A hat-trick from loose forward Joe Mellor helped the Vikings recover from an early 12-0 deficit but the efforts of the Cheshire set were in vain.

In a tight but clumsy game, Noble was pleased with the win which he hopes will be a turning point for the soon-to-be-renamed Red Devils.

“We’re in the business of getting better, we understand the circumstances and we’re trying to keep away from the win and loss mentality,” said Noble.

“We’ve improved massively in the last few weeks and we will keep improving. The players have been overburdened with the reality of the situation, the pressure cooker.”

Salford - Brian NobleMellor’s second for Widnes seven minutes into the second half required the kind of soccer skills Manchester’s Etihad Stadium is used to seeing as the Vikings fought to keep the result in doubt.

A draw looked likely when the video referee awarded Kevin Brown a try after he snuck over from a tap penalty but two minutes before the hooter James struck the fatal blow.

Lee Gaskell was the first to cross the line for the Reds 30 minutes in after intercepting a pass by Jon Clarke to run the length of the pitch.

This was closely followed by a try from James to give Salford a comfortable lead.

But two from Mellor either side of the half-time whistle saw Widnes almost catch-up and make the score 12-10.

A valiant Joe Broughton effort was disallowed by the video ref for obstruction with Gaskell appearing to pushing Handbury to the floor.

Salford centre Martin Gleeson found the line in the 62nd minute to extend the Reds’ lead but a missed conversion and Mellor’s third five minutes later saw the score equalised.

Salford half Theo Fages and Brown traded further tries but James’ late winner proved the Vikings efforts were for nought. The nature of the finish left Widnes boss Denis Betts despondent as he rued his side’s lack of creativity.

He conceded: “It was a tight game – nip and tuck and all those cliches – but we looked flat.

“Salford had a point to prove and we didn’t have anything to throw at them, we looked devoid of ideas at times.”

SALFORD 28 (J James 2 L Gaskell T Fages J Broughton tries M Sneyd 4 goals) bt WIDNES 22 (J Mellor 3 K Brown tries J Owens 3 goals) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: T Alibert

Final team lists:

SALFORD: Marc Sneyd; Jodie Broughton, Martin Gleeson, Lee Gaskell, Ashley Gibson; Ryan McGoldrick Theo Fages; Stephen Wild, Andrew Dixon, Matty Ashurst, Adam Walne, Wayne Godwin, Darrell Griffin. Res: Liam Foran Vic Mauro Jordan James Jake Emmitt.

WIDNES: Rhys Hanbury; Paddy Flynn, Stefan Marsh, Cameron Phelps, Jack Owens; Kevin Brown Joe Mellor; Macgraff Leuluai, Dave Allen, Chris Dean, Eamon O’Carroll, Jon Clarke, Steve Pickersgill Res: Phil Joseph, Ben Kavanagh, Lloyd White, Frank Winterstein.

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