Salford impress again as they see off Widnes

Mark Flanagan scored twice for Salford as they beat Widnes

Salford underlined their ambitious Super League credentials with a hard-fought 28-20 win over top-of-the-table Widnes at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Tim Sheens' side made it two wins from three with a very efficient 80 minutes against the high-flying Vikings who had their perfect start to their 2016 campaign shattered.

A sensational first-half effort from the home side was the foundation for this victory. They led 22-0 after half-an-hour before letting Widnes back into it just before the break to make a game of it.

The Red Devils should have had things sewn up by the break after tries from Justin Carney, Mark Flanagan, Greg Johnson and Josh Griffin had put them in charge.

Widnes fought back to give them a shot at it in the second period as the impressive Rhys Hanbury and Chris Houston pulled two scores back.

Stef Marsh and Corey Thompson put them to within two points with 10 minutes to go with opportunist tries, but Salford held on with Flanagan having the final say four minutes from time.

Salford got off to a dream start with two tries in the space of six minutes as Widnes got caught cold right from the off.

Blockbusting Aussie winger Carney plundered the first points of the day after four minutes as Salford fizzed the ball from right to left with Michael Dobson sending over Carney after Marsh stepped out of the line for Widnes.

Dobson added the extras and was called into again as the Red Devils split the Widnes defence in two after a weaving run from stand-off Robert Liu. It was his pass that sent Jones clear and right over the top of Charly Runciman and on his way to a solo score under the posts.

Widnes came back at the home side with enthusiasm that was lacking in the early exchanges, and they were looking at their influential skipper Kevin Brown to conjure something up but the Devils were up to the task.

The Vikings' cause was helped when Gareth O'Brien was yellow carded for a professional foul as Thompson came close after a blistering 70-metre run.

Salford sucked up the pressure and they replied in typical fashion with an effort from winger Johnson who touched down on the left flank.

The Red Devils were not done and they registered their fourth try of the afternoon as Griffin rampaged over the top of his opposite number Chris Bridge to make it 22-0 after O'Brien had tagged on the conversion.

Things could not have gone any better for Salford as they headed into the break but two lapses of concentration cost them dear and kept Widnes in the game.

The first error was offside at the restart that resulted in Hanbury barging his way over and then just on the stroke of half-time Houston had no problem in powering over three Salford defenders to give Widnes a flicker of hope in the second period at 22-10.

After a half-time ear bashing from Widnes boss Denis Betts, the visitors came out fighting and they put themselves well and truly back in it as mini atom, Hanbury, sprinted clear to deliver a delightful offload to Marsh who scooted in for his 50th career try.

The Red Devils hit back with some classy footwork and skill from Johnson who would have scored were it not for Hanbury's excellent try-saving tackle a yard from the line.

Thompson got another back for the Vikings to make it interesting, but Salford had enough in the tank to see it out, with Flanagan crashing over at the death.

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