WIDNES Vikings have put three points of daylight between themselves and rival play-offs chasers thanks to victory over Hull Kingston Rovers.
Denis Betts’ men, one point ahead of the Robins going into this afternoon’s clash, go into next weekend’s Challenge Cup semi final tie against Castleford Tigers in high spirits as a consequence.
This Super League Round 23 encounter swayed Vikings’ way in the minutes either side of half time.
Chris Dean’s score in the 38th minute and Joe Mellor’s try 40 seconds into the second half put Vikings 16-4 ahead and they rarely looked in danger of losing their grip from there.
Vikings struck first, Kevin Brown kicking beyond Ade Gardner for Jack Owens to race ahead, collect cleanly and touch down after eight minutes. Danny Tickle fired his conversion attempt wide.
A let off occurred when Travis Burns dummied his way over to capitalise on Rhys Hanbury’s knock on from a kick return but the Rovers stand off lost possession in the act of touching down.
But when Danny Galea was penalised for kicking at a play-the-ball it gave the visitors an opportunity to strike back.
Fast hands by Neville Costigan, Burns and James Green put Kris Keating through a hole to level matters in the 24th minute, with Burns surprisingly missing the conversion from close range.
Another Robins try looked certain from a tap-20 breakaway but Hanbury’s finger tips did enough to cause Greg Eden to spill the ball 30 metres from home.
It proved a costly miss because on the next set Hanbury kept the ball alive with a reverse flick and it allowed Chris Dean to gallop home unopposed from 40 metres. Tickle’s extras made it 10-4 after 38 minutes.
Within 40 seconds of the re-start Dave Allen broke free down the right and put Joe Mellor on a 40-metre canter to the line for a perfect start to the second half. Tickle’s conversion extended the lead to 16-4.
And four minutes later Vikings were over again.
Galea escaped down the left, released Brown, who sent Dean hurtling down the touchline. One dummy later he fed Owens and on his inside was Brown to finish off close to the sticks, although Tickle somehow missed the conversion to leave the score 20-4.
The Robins responded in the 50th minute, with Jason Chan forcing his way over at the end of a sweet handling move and Burns’ extras cutting the gap to 10 points.
Vikings responded in the best way, Brown and Mellor combining on the right for Stefan Marsh to scoot home in acres of space. Owens was wide with the goal attempt but Vikings were 24-10 in front.
And the game was put out of Rovers’ reach in the 70th minute when Hanbury stepped out of Burns’ attempted tackle and left defenders trailing, using Owens as a foil to finish off a 60-metre dash.
Vikings: Rhys Hanbury; Paddy Flynn, Chris Dean, Stef Marsh, Jack Owens; Kevin Brown, Joe Mellor; Phil Joseph, Jon Clarke, Ben Kavanagh, Danny Galea, Danny Tickle, Hep Cahill. Subs: Lloyd White, Willie Isa, Dave Allen, Eamon O’Carroll.
Hull KR: Greg Eden; Ade Gardner, Kris Welham, Liam Salter, Ben Cockayne; Travis Burns, Kris Keating; Jason Netherton, Josh Hodgson, Adam Walker, Kevin Larroyer, Jason Chan, Neville Costigan. Subs: Keal Carlile, Graeme Horne, James Green, Jordan Cox.
Referee: Robert Hicks