Super League: Leigh Centurions 24-37 Widnes Vikings

Danny Craven
Danny Craven came through the Widnes academy
Betfred Super League
Leigh (12) 24
Tries: Tickle, Crooks 2, Hopkins Goals: Reynolds 4
Widnes (18) 37
Tries: Bridge, Craven 3, Brooks, Runciman Goals: Gilmore 6 Drop goals: Gilmore

Danny Craven's hat-trick helped Widnes to their first Super League win of 2017 as they overcame a spirited Leigh side.

Craven scored twice along with Chris Bridge to put Widnes 18-12 up at half-time, with Danny Tickle and Ben Crooks replying for the hosts.

Sam Brooks' try and a Tom Gilmore drop goal gave the Vikings control before Crooks' second and a Sam Hopkins touchdown dragged Leigh within a point.

Craven's third and Charley Runciman's try eventually put Widnes out of sight.

Leigh had only lost once at home on their return to Super League and there would have been few betting against them extending that run against a Widnes side short of form - with just one draw in the opening six games.

The departure of Kevin Brown and injury to Joe Mellor meant a reshuffle in the halves for Widnes, and Craven justified his selection by forming a potent combination with fellow academy product Gilmore.

Denis Betts' side belied their league position with strong starts to both halves, and then showed the necessary character to find a second wind to pull clear of the Centurions at the end of the game.

Crooks' sin-binning led to a nervy finish, but Leigh were unable to find another breakthrough and Runciman's score widened the victory margin.

Leigh coach Neil Jukes said: "I have no complaints with the result. Too many people had an off day for us. We didn't show enough desire and just looked like a team that didn't want to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.

"We got what we deserved today. I was nervous with the way we defended our tryline because we didn't seem to grasp what we had practised in training.

"As a team we will go through some tough periods this season. Our home games are really important to us and we have made this place a bit of a fortress so to lose today was very disappointing."

Widnes head coach Denis Betts said: "To say it was a gutsy performance is an understatement. We had 11 probable starters sat in the stand and lost two players to concussion in the first 20 minutes. For the last 20 minutes I had no subs left.

It was a massive effort. There is a dogged determination within the group and we had our backs to the wall.

"We started the game really well and found some rhythm and Tom Gilmore gave us some great direction on his return from injury at half-back."

Leigh: Hampshire; Higson, Brown, Crooks, Dawson; Ridyard, Reynolds; Acton, Higham, Weston, Vea, Tickle, Hock

Replacements: Hood, Hansen, Hopkins, Green

Widnes: Hanbury; Armstrong, Bridge, Runciman, Marsh; Craven, Gilmore; Chapelhow, Johnstone, Burke, Olbison, Whitley, Houston

Replacements: Walker, Leuluai, Manuokafoa, Brooks

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