Rugby League - Salford grind out precious win

A hat-trick of tries from Widnes scrum-half Joe Mellor was in vain as Salford ground out a precious 28-22 win at the Magic Weekend to haul themselves off the foot of the Super League table.

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Rugby League - Salford grind out precious win
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Jordan James scores the winning try

The former Wigan half-back was in sparkling form but it was largely a one-man show from the Vikings as the City Reds plundered a second win in four Super League games under Brian Noble to avenge a 58-24 defeat at the Stobart Stadium last month.

Wales international forward Jordan James, making his return from a one-match ban, was Salford's unlikely hero with a brace of tries, doubling his total for the season, but it was very much a team effort by Noble's men.

Widnes were hoping to erase painful memories of their first Magic Weekend experience, a 68-4 thrashing by Warrington 12 months earlier, and they dominated the first half only to find themselves trailing 12-0 until 90 seconds before the break.

The Vikings produced some neat play, largely through the prompting of stand-off Kevin Brown, to put themselves into scoring positions but undid their good work with some woeful finishing. Widnes were on one of their most threatening attacks when Salford centre Lee Gaskell intercepted Jon Clarke's pass meant for centre Stefan Marsh and showed a clean pair of heels to all chasers on a 90-metre run to the other end to open the scoring on 27 minutes.

The Reds extended their lead from another rare foray into Vikings territory, with James taking Ryan McGoldrick's pass from dummy half to crash over for his first try. Marc Sneyd added both conversions but Widnes struck what looked at the time like a crucial blow just before half-time when Mellor touched down a slide-rule grubber kick from his half-back partner Brown.

Jack Owens added the goal and Widnes cut the gap to just two points early in the second half thanks to a touch of magic from Mellor. A pass out of the tackle by substitute forward Phil Joseph got centre Cameron Phelps into space and, although his pass was a poor one, Mellor had the presence of mind to hack the ball on and he kicked again to round full-back Sneyd before re-gathering to touch down.

As Salford grew in confidence on the back of their magnificent defensive efforts, pacy winger Jodie Broughton beat Paddy Flynn and Hanbury on a glorious 60-metre run to the line only to have the try disallowed for an obstruction by Gaskell on Mellor as he attempted to make a covering tackle. However, there was no denying captain Martin Gleeson on 62 minutes when he took Sneyd's pass to cross wide out for his side's third try.

In a frantic finish, Mellor sold a dummy to open up the Salford defence to complete his hat-trick and Owens' second goal tied the scores.

Salford's French teenage scrum-half Theo Fages then took Liam Foran's pass to go through a tiring defence to restore his side's lead with 10 minutes to go but Brown squeezed over from a tap penalty 10 metres out bring his side level again. Sneyd had a second drop-goal attempt charged down by Eamon O'Carroll as he sought to break the deadlock but Salford had the final say when James took Stephen Wild's pass and slid out of Hanbury's despairing tackle to score the match-winning try.

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