4th February 2018, 17:28 | Widnes
Widnes Vikings made the perfect start to their Betfred Super League campaign with a 40-12 victory over Catalans Dragons at the Halton Stadium.
The French side, who had to win the Million Pound Game last year to keep their place in Super League, led 12-6 after tries on debut from David Mead and Benjamin Jullien but collapsed in alarming fashion after the break.
Second rower Chris Dean scored two of the Vikings' seven tries, while architects of an impressive Widnes performance were home-grown half-backs Tom Gilmore and Joe Mellor.
What a reception for this guy! Wellington returns to the dressing room after taking countless selfies with supporters in the Pat Price Stand. pic.twitter.com/U010oyAwHb— Widnes Vikings (@WidnesRL) February 4, 2018
Catalans conceding five penalties in the first 10 minutes and had Sam Moa sent to the sin bin for a late tackle on Mellor before conceding the first try as Dean smashed through.
Mead scored his first Super League try and fellow newcomer Jullien got his hand to the ball over the line after Samisoni Langi’s kick.
Walsh added both goals to give his side a 12-6 lead and both sides spurned further chances before Dean sent Mellor away for Widnes’ second try.
The home side went on to dominate the second half, former Catalans centre Krisnan Inu touching down Gilmore’s high kick before Dean, Patrick Ah Van, Runciman and Stefan Marsh went over.
Widnes coach Denis Betts was delighted after his side scored 34 points without reply to send out an early message to the pundits who predicted his team to struggle once more.
“We’re the only group that thinks we can do anything this year,” Betts said. “We’ve got a good group of players
“The lads who missed out last year through injury are healthy and fit and the new lads have come in and given us a real boost.
“It justifies the targets we’ve set ourselves and the goals we’ve got.
“In the first half we looked a little bit edgy but we just had to be the side we practised to be.”
Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara admits his side will need to tighten their discipline going forward.
“It surprised me because I thought we went some way to fixing up our discipline at the back end of last year,” McNamara said. “It’s something we’ll need to address.
“I actually thought we dealt with the first half okay on the back of a 9-1 penalty count and a man in the bin – we looked dominant – but paid the price for it in the second half. Our tackling was appalling.
“To get our backsides kicked like that is not good enough. We only had 10 sets with the ball in the second half.
“It’s a tough one to take but it is round one. We have only been together for five weeks, we will improve, but we’re going to have to improve dramatically.”