Leeds Rhinos 42 Widnes Vikings 22
WIDNES went down despite a spirited second half comeback at Leeds Rhinos.
The Vikings looked dead and buried at the break as they trailed 30-6 and with injury problems to boot.
But they forged an unlikely comeback to give themselves a sniff before conceding a couple of late tries.
Vikings boss Denis Betts gave debuts to Academy products Owen Farnworth, starting at loose forward, and Liam Walsh on the bench.
Corey Thompson, Patrick Ah Van, Tom Gilmore, Ted Chapelhow, Lloyd White and Jack Buchanan returned to action after missing out on the previous game against Warrington.
Leeds were quick out of the blocks and opened the scoring on six minutes when Kallum Watkins collected a Danny McGuire chip to cross by the posts.
As well as being outgunned, the Vikings were also short of luck. Matt Parcell's second try for the home side came courtesy of a freakish bounce of the ball off the crossbar.
It became 18-0 when a late Adam Cuthbertson offload allowed Joel Moon to squeeze over.
Widnes attacks were few and far between but on 24 minutes, half-back Tom Gilmore dummied over from close range and added the extras himself.
It proved a mere blip as Moon combined with Ryan Hall before crossing for his second try.
The final score of the first half summed things up with winger Tom Briscoe sneaking over from dummy-half up an unguarded blindside on the last tackle.
Watkins' fifth goal made it 30-6 with Widnes further hampered by the loss of backs Danny Craven and Tom Armstrong through injury in the first 40 minutes.
Rhinos fans were no doubt expecting a second half avalanche but it failed to materialise.
The Vikings showed tremendous spirit against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Denis Betts' men pulled six points back through Gilmore's second try from Jordan Johnstone's bullet pass.
As Widnes dominated second half possession they scored again when skipper Chris Houston finished off after Farnworth had collected a Gilmore kick.
On 64 minutes the unlikeliest of comebacks looked on as Corey Thompson joined the line from fullback to score wide out to make it, remarkably 30-22.
The Rhinos line survived another couple of near misses as the Vikings scented blood.
There was a palpable sense of relief in the stadium when, with seven minutes remaining, Danny McGuire put Watkins over for his second converted score.
And with the last play of the game, Parcell completed his brace through a defence that looked like it had given everything it had.
Leeds: Handley; Briscoe, Watkins, Ward, Hall; McGuire, Moon; Galloway, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Mullally. Subs: Burrow, Walters, Garbutt, Baldwinson.
Widnes: Thompson; Marsh, Armstrong, Runciman, Ah Van; Gilmore, Craven; T Chapelhow, White, Buchanan, Dean, Houston, Farnworth. Subs: Dudson, Burke, Johnstone, Walsh.
Referee: S Mikalauskas