Widnes Vikings returned to the top of the Super League table with a 30-16 win over injury-hit Hull KR.
Man of the Match Joe Mellor and Player of the Month nominee Corey Thompson both crossed for a brace of tries as Denis Betts’ men recorded their fourth win in five games at the start of the season.
The Vikings didn’t have it all their own way though against a spirited Rovers outfit, who were missing several first team players under the guidance of caretaker coach Willie Poching, following the departure of Chris Chester a fortnight ago.
Indeed it was eight minutes until Widnes even managed a play the ball, despite the visitors kicking off. Gil Dudson spilled the ball on the first carry of the game and that resulted in four successive sets on the Vikings line for Rovers.
The first ended with a kick that bounced awkwardly and was knocked on by a defender and then two drop outs were forced after smart short kicks through by Matty Marsh.
It was after the second drop out that Hull KR finally found their way through for the first try of the game.
Having made more than 20 tackles back to back, the Widnes defence crumbled as Maurice Blair took on the line and found his way over despite the attention of a clutch of defenders.
Widnes’ first foray in to the redzone at the other end resulted in Charly Runciman crossing the line, only to be pulled back for a forward pass.
They didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet though, as Mellor orchestrated a set move down the impressive Vikings right hand side, enabling Rhys Hanbury to find Chris Bridge who set Corey Thompson away tight to the touchline before the wing passed the ball inside for Hanbury to touch down.
It was down the right that the second try came, this time Mellor taking on the line and showing a clean pair of heels before shrugging off full-back Ben Cockayne to race in from 30 metres.
Hanbury added one of the conversions but the Vikings found themselves behind again shortly after the half hour mark.
It was down Hull KR’s right this time, as Cockayne created some space for Thomas Minns to get on the outside, and he shrugged off a poor tackle attempt by Connor Farrell and proved too strong for Hanbury to cut inside and score near the posts.
But a five-minute double salvo before the half time hooter put Widnes in control.
Kevin Brown reversed the play and Mellor sent Chris Dean through a gap on the angle and then followed up to take the return pass and cross under the sticks.
Then came the try of the game. A fine flowing move from the Vikings that started inside their own 30 metres. Mellor and Dean again linking up for the half-back to race away and find Bridge on his right shoulder, who made a measured pass to wing man Thompson to run it in the right corner.
The second half was largely a forgettable affair, and after Widnes got the first score you always felt they were too strong for their opponents.
Again the try came down the right, Bridge getting on the outside of his man and getting the ball out of the back door for a supporter Mellor, who put Thompson away to fend off opposite number Ryan Shaw and score in the corner.
Hull KR dug deep and made sure Widnes weren’t as comfortable as they maybe would have liked late on, Shaw crossing to reduce arrears to 12, and a sign of the Vikings respect for their opponents came when Brown missed two drop goal attempts.
They did eventually defuse the content in the final few minutes, Hanbury tagging on a penalty score, while Mellor or Thompson perhaps should have had a hat-trick try on the hooter when the excellent Bridge passed too early on a breakaway.
The Vikings are next in action on Thursday night when they entertain Rovers’ city rivals Hull FC in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the Select Security Stadium.
Widnes: Hanbury, Thompson, Bridge, Runciman, Marsh, Mellor, Brown, O’Carroll, White, Dudson, Dean, Houston, Cahill. Subs: Manuokafoa, Leuluai, Whitley, Farrell.
Hull KR: Cockayne, Sio, Salter, Thornley, Shaw, Marsh, Blair, Walker, Lawler, Tilse, Clarkson, Greenwood, Allgood. Subs: Minns, Mulhern, Moran, Holker.