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Widnes 40 Castleford 10
VIKINGS’ big men, and some crafty and industrious play from returning skipper Jon Clarke, laid the platform for a comfortable victory which lifts them off the bottom of the Super League pile.
Having been subjected to some criticism from television pundit Brian Carney in the week building up to the game, Vikings provided a fitting riposte against an admittedly out of sorts Tigers side.
The pack looked an altogether more coherent, solid and abrasive unit, with new signing Eamon O’Carroll starting off the bench before marking his debut with a well taken try.
There were stand-out games for big men Ben Cross and Frank Winterstein, who really made their presence felt in the middle.
Vikings started well, when off the back of two penalties, fit again centre Stefan Marsh sliced through after taking Joe Mellor’s delicately weighted pass.
Castleford rallied briefly when full back Nick Youngquest zipped in at the corner after collecting big man Craig Huby’s offload, but the visitors posed little threat through the evening and were clearly missing the dynamism of suspended Rangi Chase.
Although Chris Dean then had an effort ruled out by the video referee, who ruled a double movement, Vikings were soon back on the offensive.
A dab through from hooker Shane McShane, who is proving to be a useful little player, took a rebound which Clarke swiftly scooped up to send Winterstein powering over.
And just before the break, after piling on the pressure by forcing a drop-out, Ben Davies took the Clarke’s short ball to crash through, goaled by Patrick Ah Van to give Widnes an 18-4 lead.
The Vikings continued where they had left off with jack-in-the-box McShane darted over from dummy half.
The Tigers were left looking utterly bedraggled at this stage, and Ah Van pressurised Youngquest into spilling the ball from a high kick. From that position intelligent play from Mellor prised open the Castleford defence to slice through.
Although Stuart Jones sneaked over for a try, goaled by Huby, it did not herald the start of a Cas comeback in the last quarter of the game.
Vikings continued to force errors, and they cashed in the opportunities they had with the mountain of possession.
O’Carroll was alert enough to follow McShane’s grubber for his debut try on 67 minutes – and only some impatient play with the ball, forcing passes and giving away intercepts, stopped them from having another couple.
As it was some great play by Rhys Hanbury fashioned an opening on the left flank for the impressive Ah Van to touch down in the corner.
Hanbury’s touchline conversion brought up the 40 and gave an even more emphatic look to Vikings’ biggest win of the season so far, sparking cries of “We’re gonna win the league” from the north stand.
Widnes Phelps; Isa, Marsh, Dean, Ah Van; Mellor, Hanbury; Cross, Clarke, Pickersgill, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Subs: Davies, Kite, McShane, O’Carroll.
Castleford: Youngquest; Clare, Griffin, Thompson, Williams; Ferres, McGoldrick; Walker, Milner, Huby, Millington, Holmes, Snitch. Subs: Orr, Emmitt, Jones, Massey.