Super League Magic Weekend: Salford 16-38 Widnes

Patrick Ah Van is congratulated after his first try in the Magic Weekend win over Salford
Patrick Ah Van is congratulated after his first try in the Magic Weekend win over Salford
First Utility Super League
Salford (4) 16
Tries: Paterson, Johnson, Jones-Bishop Goals: Griffin 2
Widnes (20) 38
Tries: Brown 3, Ah Van 2, Galea, Marsh Goals: Owens 5

Kevin Brown scored a hat-trick for Widnes as they opened Magic Weekend by beating 12-man Salford on Tyneside.

Cory Paterson's try put Salford ahead but Widnes retaliated with two Patrick Ah Van tries and one from Danny Galea.

Brown finished off a lovely Widnes move before Salford's Darrell Griffin was dismissed for a high shot on half-time.

Captain Brown got his second try before Greg Johnson and Ben Jones-Bishop cut the deficit, but Brown added his third and Stefan Marsh scored another.

In the first of six games being played at St James' Park, Denis Betts's Widnes side made the most of the dry and sunny North East weather, picking up their fourth straight league victory to move up to seventh in the Super League table.

St James' Park was hosting Magic Weekend for the first time
St James' Park was hosting Magic Weekend for the first time

But, after making a good start to the season, Salford have lost their way over the last couple of months, their seventh straight defeat seeing them drop to second bottom.

They lacked a leader who could direct them around the park, missing the guile of suspended stand-off Rangi Chase.

Brothers Darrell, Josh and George Griffin all started for Salford, despite the death of their father earlier this week, in memory of whom a minute's silence was observed before kick-off.

And the Red Devils were first on the scoreboard when Australian forward Paterson went in after skilful work from Jones-Bishop and Junior Sa'u.

But the Widnes supporters - kitted out in black and white stripes in the Gallowgate End - made it feel like a home match with their boisterous support.

And their team respond superbly when burly winger Ah Van barged over in the corner to finish off a flowing move before he scored again in a similar position, in between Galea's effort between the posts.

Magic Weekend was up against the rival attractions of the FA Cup final and a Test match at Headingley
Magic Weekend was up against the rival attractions of the FA Cup final and a Test match at Headingley

Former Huddersfield man Brown jinked his way in between two Salford defenders to extend his side's lead to 20-4, before Darrell Griffin was given a deserved red card just before half-time after catching Matt Whitley in the face with a swinging arm.

Widnes's brilliance owned much to Salford's haplessness, as Brown went over for his second.

Although Johnson stretched over and Jones-Bishop broke clear as Iestyn Harris's Salford side threatened a comeback, Brown was able to run clear to complete his treble, before Marsh added another try for Widnes to put the game beyond their opponents.

Salford head coach Iestyn Harris:

"It was a harsh sending-off for Darrell Griffin. There was no malice, just mistimed. It was a tough one for us at that stage.

"They were not in training at the start of the week. They had priorities with the family. They put their hands up to play and it affected the players. They are disappointed, especially Darrell. The game meant so much to him.

"Our attitude was wrong, Widnes had more energy and were more eager than us. The game was already gone in the second half.

"We are confident of turning it around. The spine of the team is on the medical table and we can be more potent with Rangi Chase coming back."

Widnes head coach Denis Betts:

"Kevin Brown is enjoying playing. He orchestrates the play. He has lived up to expectations from day one.

"Darrell Griffin's challenge was a red card. It was intentional, making contact with the head with a swinging arm.

"It was an emotional game for the Griffin boys today. You have to feel for them.

"We had the best supporters at the last Magic Weekend and they have done the same again. They embrace the shirt and people in Newcastle do the same. It was an outstanding atmosphere."

Salford: Evalds; Jones-Bishop, Sa'u, J Griffin, Johnson; Fages, Hauraki; D Griffin, J Walne, Taylor, Hansen, Paterson, G Griffin.

Replacements: Morley, Hood, Walton, Forster.

Sent Off: D Griffin (40).

Sin Bin: J Griffin (78).

Widnes: Hanbury; Owens, Marsh, Phelps, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; Gerrard, White, Dudson, Clarkson, Galea, Isa.

Replacements: Whitley, Heremaia.

Not used: Manuokafoa, Leuluai,

Sin Bin: Phelps (78).

Attendance: 40,871.

Referee: James Child (RFL).

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