Super League: Widnes Vikings 23-6 Leeds Rhinos

Joe Mellor evaded some acrobatic Leeds defending to get the ball down for the first Widnes try
Joe Mellor evaded some acrobatic Leeds defending to get the ball down for the first Widnes try
Super League
Widnes (4) 23
Tries: Inu 2, Mellor, Walker Goals: Inu 3 Drop-goal: Craven
Leeds (6) 6
Try: Dwyer Goal: Watkins

Champions Leeds fell to their first Super League defeat of the season as they lost at Widnes.

Nine days on from their World Club Challenge defeat in Melbourne, Leeds conceded four tries in Cheshire.

Leeds hooker Brad Dwyer cancelled out Joe Mellor's unconverted try to earn Leeds a 6-4 interval lead.

But three second-half tries, two from Krisnan Inu and one from Danny Walker, and a Danny Craven drop-goal earned an ultimately comfortable win.

Injury-hit Leeds, who had won their first two league games of 2018 prior to the trip down under, were without 12 first team players, including seven of the team beaten 38-4 by Melbourne Storm.

It already looked ominous for Leeds when Wellington Albert came off the bench to produce a superb offload which created the space for Mellor to go in out wide on 20 minutes.

Leeds hooker Brad Dwyer came off the bench to score the Rhinos' only try - his first for the club
Leeds hooker Brad Dwyer came off the bench to score the Rhinos' only try - his first for the club

Leeds had the spirit to cancel out the hosts' lead when hooker Dwyer went over from dummy half, shortly after he had come on, Kallum Watkins' conversion putting them ahead.

But, once Kiwi centre Inu's first try had edged Widnes back in front on 54 minutes, after a great break by full-back Rhys Hanbury, it was an uphill battle for the Rhinos.

The hosts struck twice more in the final 10 minutes to go third in the table, through Inu and youngster Walker as tired Leeds slid to their fourth successive defeat at the Halton Stadium.

Inu, who converted both his own two tries as well as adding a second-half penalty, has now crossed the whitewash five times in four matches this season.

That puts him joint top of the early season Super League try-scoring charts, along with Wigan winger Liam Marshall.

Leeds' defeat mirrored Hull FC and Wigan Warriors as they became the third of Super League's globetrotting sides to lose on their return to domestic action.

Widnes head coach Denis Betts:

"You've got to give Leeds credit because they're a champion side and you've got to play well to beat them.

"We made some mistakes in the first half which would have hurt us in the past. But this was a great win.

"We've got a bit more resilience in us. We kept churning out the things we do and eventually got a well-deserved result."

Leeds head coach Brian McDermott:

"We haven't been down a mine digging coal. Everyone talks about the travel but it's not the worst thing in the world.

"We've got a million staff taking care of them and, while it would have had an effect and I wasn't expecting a 10 out of 10 performance, that was still disappointing.

"The late changes were the disruptive ones, Ryan Hall with tonsillitis and Tom Briscoe with a sciatic problem in his back. It was Saturday when they pulled out and we've then got no time to prepare."

Widnes: Hanbury; Chamberlain, Craven, Inu, Marsh; Mellor, Gilmore; J Chapelhow, Heremaia, Cahill, Dean, Whitley, Olbison.

Interchanges: D Walker, W Albert, T Chapelhow, Wilde.

Leeds: Golding; Newman, Watkins, Keinhorst, Handley; L Sutcliffe, Myler; Singleton, Parcell, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Walker, Ormondroyd.

Interchanges: Dwyer, Garbutt, Smith, Oledzki.

Referee: Rob Hicks.