Widnes centre Stefan Marsh scored a hat-trick of tries as the Vikings thrashed First Utility Super 8 strugglers Sheffield Eagles 48-12 on Sunday afternoon.
Two scores in three first-half minutes from the former Wigan man and an easy effort three minutes from time underlined the hosts’ dominance.
The Vikings ran in six first-half tries in all - Kevin Brown, Charly Runciman, Rhys Hanbury and Danny Galea also touched down - and it could have been a lot more if they had been more clinical.
Joe Mellor, Paddy Flynn and Runciman crossed for home tries after the interval, with Danny Tickle and Lloyd White adding two conversions apiece, while the Eagles' points came courtesy of Scott Turner and Keale Carlile tries and via the boot of Patrick Walker.
Brown was a thorn in the visitors' side throughout and got things ticking over with a walk-in on nine minutes after he connected with his half-back partner Mellor.
Brown then turned provider on 20 minutes with a superb long-range pass to Marsh, who powered home. The same combination struck again two minutes later, with Marsh racing in from 70 metres as the Eagles were caught flat-footed.
It was becoming too easy for Widnes as their forwards punched holes through the heart of the Sheffield defensive line and, when the backs spread the ball wide, the Vikings were queueing up. Australian centre Runciman was the next to benefit with a simple touchdown.
Just after the half-hour mark, Widnes were over again as Mellor’s break put Hanbury clear.
The try-scoring procession continued when Brown put the rampaging second-row Galea through a gaping hole.
Sheffield’s attacks were few and far between. Menzie Yere did go close after five minutes but it took another 35 for them to mount another effort. Dominic Brambani launched a towering kick to the corner and it was collected by Turner to at least put them on the scoreboard.
Things did not improve much for Mark Aston’s Sheffield in the second half as Widnes turned the screw further. Mellor sprinted 95 metres after scooping up a loose ball as the Eagles searched for another score.
The flow was temporarily halted for a serious leg injury to Eagles prop Steve Thorpe. The burly forward was carried off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly in a tackle on the i-pitch.
When play resumed, Widnes started where they had left off. Flynn knocked five defenders out of his way to ground, with White adding the extras from in front to bring up the 40-point marker.
Despite being second best all afternoon, the Eagles kept going and their perseverance was rewarded when Carlile crashed over from close range to give their supporters something to cheer about.
Widnes replied in typical fashion through Marsh, who outpaced his opposite number to dive over in the corner. Runciman had the final say, however, with his second of the afternoon as Marsh’s inside ball gave him a walk-in.