Widnes swept to a comprehensive 13-try victory over newly promoted Keighley Cougars to open their 2010 Co-operative Championship campaign at the Stobart Stadium Halton.
The Vikings took control of the game from the off, racking up a 34-6 half time lead largely on the back of strong running from second rower, Liam Farrell (cousin of Wigan legend, Andy) and West Bank graduate, Shane Grady, who went on to bag a hat trick of tries along with fellow centre, Dean Thompson.
Widnes took the lead on 4 minutes with centre Shane Grady taking Dave Allen’s offload to dive in at the left corner; a try he duly converted from wide out.
Then Farrell’s 30 break created the platform for their second score, with James Webster and Grady’s quick passes combining to send Matt Gardner in at the left corner. Grady again goaled.
Another break from the hard running Farrell saw right centre, Dean Thompson, crash in for his first Vikings’ try. Grady was wide right from the touchline.
A neat drop-off pass from Anthony Thackery saw Dave Allen score by the posts to give Grady an easy conversion on 28 minutes, opening a 22-0 lead; the contest was well over.
Webster and Houghton combined to crack the Cougars defence down the left centre channel, sending Farrell racing through to score. Grady made it 28-0.
The Cougars were finally rewarded for their effortd on 35 minutes with winger Gavin Duffy crossing at the corner. Danny Jones’ touchline conversion made it 28-6.
The Vikings hit back with another Grady try and a goal to go in with a 34-6 half time lead.
Referee, Ronnie Laughton, was replaced by line-judge, Chris Dean, at the break and Dean’ first action was to rule out a Vikings score; it didn’t hold them out for long though.
Grady completed his hat trick, bursting over at left centre, and Thompson bagged his second with a similar act at right centre. Both scores were converted by Grady.
Craig Moss stemmed the tide briefly, the winger crossing for a try on 62 minutes, but Jones touchline conversion attempt drifted wide this time.
Sean Yates chimed into the line to send Thomas Coyle over for the Vikings’ tenth touchdown on 66 minutes, with Grady again converting.
Further tries from Varkulis, Thackery and Yates, plus two conversion by Grady saw Widnes close out the 72-10 rout.
Vikings’ trio Paddy Flynn, Steve Pickersgill and Gareth Haggerty all missed out. However Richard Varkulis returned in place of dual registered winger, Shaun Ainscough, who scored a Super League hat trick for Castleford Tigers on Saturday after joining them on a month long loan.
Widnes coach Paul Cullen was philosophical about the Wigan Warriors decision to switch Ainscough to Castleford saying: “It dovetails very nicely for us because we now have several of our own players either ready or very close to a return from injury.”
Cougars halfback, Danny Jones returned to action after a forearm injury, but Dalley Williams (back) missed out, with a late change seeing Ben Sagar replace Carl Hughes at loose forward.
18 Yates, 3 Varkulis, 22 Thompson, 15 Grady, 19 Gardner, 6 Thackery, 7 Webster, 17 Kavanagh, 9 Smith, 10 Gannon, 27 Farell, 11 Doran, 12 Allen
Subs: 14 Coyle, 13 Gerrard, 31 Davies, 23 Houghton
T: Grady(4, 38, 43), Gardner (9), Thompson (23, 47, 56), Allen (28), Farrell (32), Coyle (66), Varkulis (71), Thackery (74), Yates (77)
G: Grady 10/13
1 Raynor, 2 Moss, 3 Burton, 12 Pursglove, 5 Duffy, 6 Presley, 7 D Jones, 8 Shickell, 9 Feather, 16 Rawlins, 11 Cartledge, 21 R Jones, 122 Sagar
Subs: 14 Wray, 18 Haythornwaite, 10 Law, 17 Benjafield
T: Duffy (35), Moss (62)
G: Jones 1/2
V-K: 6-0, 12-0, 16-0, 22-0, 28-0, 28-6, 34-6 -HT- 40-6, 46-6, 50-6, 50-10, 56-10, 62-10, 68-10, 72-10
Half time: 34-6
Full time: 72-10
Referee: R Laughton
Players of Note:
- Liam Farrell’s strong running
- Sean Grady’s eye for a try
- The intelligent offloading and work rate of Anthony Thackery