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Widnes Vikings grounded in France
Updated 10:41pm Saturday 12th April 2014 in Sport
WIDNES Vikings excellent start to their First Utility Super League campaign came crashing to earth in the heat of Perpignan.
Catalan Dragons showed they'd put their own early season troubles behind them as they ran in nine tries in a 42-20 triumph.
Only the wayward goal kicking of half-back Thomas Bosc prevented the Dragons from registering a half century.
To make matters worse for Widnes, Declan Hulme, Paul Johnson and Danny Craven all left the field injured.
By the end of the match back-rower Macgraff Leuluai was being pressed into service in the centre position.
Three tries in the first 20 minutes for the home side from Ben Pomeroy, Elliott Whitehead and Morgan Escare suggested it was going to be a long day at the office for the Vikings.
But Denis Betts men enjoyed their best spell as half-time approached.
Smart passing to the right saw Paddy Flynn score on the overlap and then an astute Kevin Brown kick allowed Jack Owens to pounce on the opposite flank.
Danny Tickle converted the Owens try and at 14-10 it looked like game on.
However, Leon Pryce put Whitehead over for his second try just before the hooter to stretch the lead by a further four points.
Still, Widnes had shown enough to suggest they could trouble the Dragons if they could. Maintain possession.
It turned out to be a big 'if'.
Handling errors meant the Vikings were under constant pressure early in the second period and they inevitably conceded as Duport scored wide out.
Flynn had a try ruled out by the video referee for a Chris Dean knock-on but it was a rare incursion into opposition territory.
Whitehead scored a hat-trick try from a short ball ten metres out and then Pomeroy added another after picking up Brown's stray pass to make it 32-10.
Widnes pulled a try back through Lloyd White after a miraculous Flynn offload as he was getting bundled into touch but a knock-on from the kick-off prevented them from gaining any real momentum.
Duport and Daryl Millard re-emphasised the Dragons superiority with further touchdowns before Owens grabbed his second try from a Leuluai pass by way of consolation.
Catalan: Escare; Cardace, Pomeroy, Duport; Pryce, Bosc; Elima, Pelissier, Lima, Taia, Whiteheqd, Baitieri. Subs: Bousquet, Paea, Garcia, Gausch.
Widnes: Hanbury; Flynn, Hulme, Dean, Owens; Brown, Craven; O'Carroll, Clarke, Kavanagh, Leuluai, Tickle, Cahill. Subs: White, Johnson, Joseph, Clough.
Referee: J Child
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