Salford Red Devils 32 Widnes Vikings 6

WIDNES slumped to their second defeat of the Betfred Super League Qualifiers as they went down 32-6 to Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Despite taking an early lead, the Vikings were thoroughly second best against a Red Devils side marshalled by Antipodean half-backs Jackson Hastings and Robert Lui.

Widnes now look odds on favourites for the drop with five games remaining including more tough away trips.

Widnes boss Francis Cummins made a couple of personnel changes to the side that lost to London Broncos nine days earlier, both of them on the bench.

Hooker Lloyd White came in for youngster Danny Walker and prop forward Alex Gerrard replaced the injured Charlie Gubb.

There was also a slight change of emphasis in the starting pack with Chris Houston dropping back into the second row and Harrison Hansen moving up to the front row.

A break from fullback Olly Ashall-Bott put Widnes on the front foot from their first possession and at the end of the set Salford failed to deal with Liam Finn’s bomb and Charly Runciman scored at the corner. Krisnan Inu’s conversion made it 6-0.

However, a series of unforced errors soon put the Vikings in retreat and after a couple of near misses Lui put centre Junior Sa’u over to level the scores.

On 21 minutes, a superbly timed pass from Hastings put Sa’u over for his second six-pointer to give his team a 12-6 advantage.

The Vikings continued to struggle to find any cohesion but some tough goallne defence kept the home side at bay.

Five minutes before half-time, Salford had hooker Joey Lussick sin-binned for a crusher tackle on Krisnan Inu but Widnes couldn’t make their numerical advantage count in the lead up to the break.

Disaster struck with seconds of the first half remaining when Ashall-Bott, the Vikings’ main attacking threat, was injured in a Kris Welham tackle and had to be helped from the field with the Salford player going on report.

A second half reshuffle saw Joe Mellor drop to fullback from the halves with Aaron Hermaia going into a playmaking role.

A mistake by Charly Runciman bringing the ball away from his own line gave the Red Devils an early chance in the second period and Lui burrowed over from dummy-half to make it 18-6.

An Ed Chamberlain penalty pushed Salford two points futher ahead and on the hour mark Hastings and Lui combined to send fullback Niall Evalds in at the posts.

At 26-6, there was no way back for Widnes and Mark Flanagan added a further converted try to complete the scoring.

Salford: Evalds; Chamberlain, Welham, Sa’u, Olpherts; Lui, Hastings; Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Jones, Lannon, Flanagan. Subs: Kopczak, Burke, Lussick, Nakubuwai.

Widnes: Ashall-Bott; Ah Van, Inu, Whitley, Runciman; Mellor, Finn; Hansen, Heremaia, Dudson, Dean, Houston, Hauraki. Subs: White, Leuluai, Olbison, Gerrard..

Half-time: 12-6

Referee: B Thaler