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Widnes go into Challenge Cup quarter finals
5:41pm Sunday 27th April 2014 in Sport
SALFORD RED DEVILS 20 WIDNES VIKINGS 30.
WIDNES had to survive a nerve-jangling last three minutes before getting the better of Salford 30-20 in the Tetley's Challenge Cup at the AJ Bell Stadium.
To be fair, the Vikings were far the superior side for the vast majority of the contest and they led 24-8 with just seven minutes remaining.
But a combination of Widnes trying to wish the time away and the Red Devils suddenly finding some attacking fluidity created a grandstand finish.
Prop Lama Tasi rumbled over and Gareth Hock scored at the end of an 80 metre move to make it 24-20.
When Rhys Hanbury's restart went out on the full, Vikings fans may have feared their team was about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Salford almost capitalised but Francis Meli was bundled over the corner flag by Hanbury.
Still the home side had one last desperate attempt to create something from nothing but the ball went to ground and Lloyd White picked up to scamper over from 20 metres after the hooter had sounded.
Widnes suffered a pre-match blow when scrum-half Grant Gore tweaked a hamstring in the warm-up.
Danny Craven came in as a replacement and did a fine job at short notice.
The first ten minutes of the match were relatively uneventful with neither side threatening the opposition line.
That all changed when, after a couple of penalties had gifted them field position, the Vikings opened their account as Danny Galea crashed over from Craven's short ball.
Widnes doubled their lead to 12-0 on 16 minutes when stand-off Kevin Brown exploited some weak tackling to twist his way over from close range.
Salford's riposre inevitably came from one of their big guns as ex-Viking Hock proved too strong for a clutch of defenders on the line.
Tommy Lee missed the relatively simple conversion.
With five minutes to go to the interval, Widnes crossed for their third six-pointer when Hanbury linked up from fullback to power over from a Brown pass ten metres out.
An 18-4 half-time lead looked pretty healthy for Widnes even with a strong breeze in their faces in the second period.
Things looked even rosier when Hanbury followed up a Craven grubber kick to score his second try of the game with Tickle adding the extras to make it 24-4.
Salford pulled a try back on 54 minutes through Junior Sa'u but there was no sign at that point of the drama to come.
Had the Red Devils somehow snatched a late win it would have been a grave injustice given the Vikings dominance for most of the contest.. Salford: Eden; Platt, Gleeson, Sa'u, Meli; Chase, Fages; Morley, Tomkins, Tasi, Hansen, Hock, Lee. Subs: Smith, Griffin, Rapira, Puletua.
Widnes: Hanbury; Flynn, Dean, Phelps, Owens; Brown, Gore; Gerrard, Clarke, Johnson, Galea, Tickle, Leuluai. Subs: White, Isa, Clough, Kavanagh.
Referee: P Bentham