Widnes Vikings 26 Hull KR 32: KR Losing streak over as Vikings are slain
16:54 GMT, 29 July 2012
Hull KR justified the changes made by coach Craig Sandercock by ending their four-match losing run with victory in a pulsating 11-try Stobart Super League encounter at Widnes.
Rovers fell behind to a Joe Mellor try after 90 seconds but recovered to lead 18-8 at the interval through scores from Michael Dobson, Ryan O'Hara and David Hodgson before Stefan Marsh crossed for the hosts to round off the first-half scoring.
Kurt Haggerty and Danny Craven added second-half tries for Widnes, but they were cancelled out by Ben Galea and Graeme Horne and then Louis Sheriff's late try put the result beyond doubt after Rhys Hanbury's converted try had got the Vikings to within two points of the Robins.
Widnes were without former Wigan and Hull prop Eamon O'Carroll, who broke an arm on his third appearance for the club in last Friday's win over Salford.
He joined skipper Jon Clarke and vice-captain Shaun Briscoe on the sidelines, with Jack Owens having his third outing of the season in place of Cameron Phelps at full-back.
Chris Heil and sub George Griffin made their Super League debuts in a much-changed Rovers line-up after their 32-18 home derby defeat by Hull.
Injuries ruled out Shannon McDonnell and Con Mika, who was also suspended, with Sam Latus and Scott Taylor dropped. In came winger Liam Salter, loose forward Dave Petersen and full-back Sheriff.
Widnes, hammered 36-0 at Craven Park in March, were in confident mood after wins over Castleford and Salford in their last three matches – sandwiched by a one-point loss against St Helens.
The Vikings made a flying start after Joel Clinton conceded an early penalty for a high tackle, and Mellor took Marsh's pass to surge over.
But Rovers hit back immediately, with Dobson working the blind-side to take a return pass from Hodgson and crossing to fire his side into a 6-4 lead.
Widnes lost Ben Cross and try-scorer Mellor with injuries in the first 12 minutes and Rovers grabbed their second try when O'Hara crashed over from Galea's pass to score near the posts.
Josh Hodgson added to the Vikings' problems by going over close to the line after 26 minutes, with Dobson's third conversion making it 18-4.
It would have been worse for Widnes had Marsh raced back to catch David Hodgson after the Rovers winger intercepted a stray pass and looked a certain scorer.
Dobson and Blake Green created havoc for the Vikings' defence but Widnes kept themselves in the hunt when Owens cleverly worked a pass to Marsh, who went over in the corner to cut the interval gap to 18-8.
Hull KR lost the influential Green at half-time and then Sheriff gifted Widnes a try four minutes after the restart when his wild pass was snapped up by Haggerty.
The Widnes substitute gleefully waltzed over under the posts and Hanbury landed his first conversion after two earlier misses.
Rovers skipper Galea halted the Widnes fightback by notching their fourth try to make it 22-14, but Widnes – with David Allen outstanding – cut the gap to two points when Craven collected Willie Isa's speculative kick on the last tackle and Hanbury booted the touchline conversion.
Dobson's 40-20 set up the chance for Horne to respond for Hull KR, who led 28-20 after 62 minutes.
Widnes refused to concede defeat and were back in contention when Hanbury chased Patrick Ah Van's clever kick to win the race to score and convert his own try to reduce the arrears back to two points with seven minutes left.
But Rovers could finally breathe easy when Sheriff went over three minutes from time to settle the contest.