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Vikings win opener: London 14 Widnes 28
8:13pm Sunday 3rd February 2013 in Sport
WIDNES opened their Super League XVIII campaign with a stirring 28-14 win at London Broncos.
It was a victory built on the back of some magnificent defensive work.
Time and again a Vikings defender appeared as if from nowhere to deny the Broncos with last-ditch tackling.
To be fair, some less than clinical finishing on behalf of the home side did no harm to the Vikings cause either.
By contrast, Widnes often made the most of their chances when they got within striking distance.
Widnes enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and took a deserved lead when centre Stefan Marsh showed good footwork to step through the Bronocs defence and race over from 15 metres.
London tried everything they knew to hit back and enjoyed plenty of pressure on the Vikings line but they were met with committed cover defence.
Having absorbed every blow, Widnes hit the Broncos with a couple of counterpunches before the interval.
A David Allen break saw him put skipper Jon Clarke over by the posts and then Allen himself was on hand to finish off after the home side had made a hash of fielding a Joe Mellor bomb.
With Rhys Hanbury adding the extras to all three first half scores, the Vikings went in at the break leading 18-0.
Widnes's cover defence was once more in evidence in the second half.
Time and again they thwarted the Broncos attack when it looked like a score was inevitable.
Finally, in the 64th minute, Tony Rea's men found a way over.
There may have been a touch of fortune about the try with a possible knock-on in the build-up, but there was no doubting the quality of winger Kieran Dixon's finish.
However, it took just three minutes for the Vikings to reply as Chris Dean flicked an inside ball to substitute Frank Winterstein whose size and strength took him over.
Hanbury converted superbly from the left touchline to make it 24-4.
Chris Melling pulled four points back for London and when Dixon stormed through for his second try the home crowd sensed an unlikely comeback was in the offing.
But Denis Betts' men steeled themselves and had the last word when Marsh hit a Mellor pass at pace to score from close range.
Hanbury missed his first conversion of the afternoon but a 28-14 victory was more than satisfactory and represented the Vikings first ever Round One victory in Super League.
The only sour note of the afternoon came with an injury to Danny Craven.
The young half-back broke his collarbone making a tackle just before half-time.
But with players of the quality of Shaun Briscoe, Cameron Phelps, Patrick Ah Van, Kevin Brown and Gareth Hock to come into the fold, Widnes will be looking to build on their victory at The Stoop.
London: Dorn; Dixon, Howell, Hurst, O'Callaghan; Witt, Gower; Kaufusi, Randall, Wheeldon, Lovell, Rodney, Bailey. Subs: Bryant, Krasniqi, Lee, Melling.
Widnes: Hanbury; Flynn, Marsh, Dean, Isa; Mellor, Craven; Cross, Clarke, O'Carroll, Leuluai, Allen, Cahill. Subs: White, Gerrard, Winterstein, Joseph.
Referee: T Roby.