Mason Caton-Brown treble inspires Salford
Salford snatched a thrilling Super League victory over Widnes with winger Mason Caton-Brown bagging a hat-trick of tries.
The scores were level 12-12 at half-time, with Salford's converted tries from Caton-Brown and Justin Carney cancelled out by Matt Whitley and Patrick Ah Van, before Caton-Brown and Whitley again traded scores.
Josh Jones and Caton-Brown's hat-trick try sealed a 32-24 win, with Corey Thompson's reply too late for the Vikings as the Red Devils ended a run of four defeats in five games in style.
Widnes handed Greg Burke his home debut, with former Wigan team-mate Connor Farrell returning on the bench after four months out with a knee problem. Hep Cahill made his 100th Widnes appearance, while Salford were boosted by the return of Carney after a two-match suspension.
The Vikings' top-eight status was already secured courtesy of Hull KR's derby drubbing at Hull on Thursday, b ut they knew victory would take them above Castleford into sixth.
But Salford had already beaten Widnes twice in Super League this season a nd could not have made a better start, with Caton-Brown finishing off a 35-metre move in their first attack after only two minutes.
Rob Lui and Junior Sa'u combined to send Caton-Brown haring over for only his second try of an injury-hit season, with Gareth O'Brien booting the touchline conversion.
Salford survived four sets of six, but t he pressure told after 16 minutes, with Whitley sweeping on to a gem of a pass from Lloyd White, who added the goal to level the scores.
Rhys Hanbury spilled a Michael Dobson kick near his own line, but regained the lead after a touchline burst from Caton-Brown, who flew past Ah Van.
Slick handling put Carney over in the corner, despite Widnes claims of a forward pass and a desperate last-ditch tackle attempt by Joe Mellor. O'Brien landed his second touchline conversion to make it 12-6.
Ah Van took Charly Runciman's inside pass to blast over five minutes before the break, with Thompson's conversion levelling the scores.
Kevin Brown's 40-20 put Widnes immediately back on the offensive, but Cahill was held up over the line and Salford held out to still be on terms 12-12 at half-time.
Ah Van saved a try early in the second half with a thundering hit on Caton-Brown, but the latter put Salford back in front after 53 minutes with his second try after an 80-metre move started by Lui and continued by Sa'u.
But then Salford lost Carney with a leg injury before Brown went off for Widnes in a daze.
Despite losing their talisman, Widnes levelled with Whitley's second try from Mellor's pass.
Salford edged back in front, with Dobson putting Jones over after 68 minutes but O'Brien off target for the first time.
Craig Kopczak and Jack Buchanan were sin-binned for fighting before the late flurry of points.
O'Brien kicked two penalties before Thompson crossed and then Caton-Brown completed his treble.