The Huddersfield Giants talisman tormented Denis Betts’s side all night, predominantly with those trademark steepling kicks that so often cause so much wreckage.
They put doubt in the hosts’ minds from the off and laid the bedrock for a hard-earned victory for the West Yorkshire club who, as demanded, responded after Sunday’s disappointing loss at Wakefield Trinity.
Scrum-half Brough came up with some telling passes, too, and, with six successful kicks from seven attempts, went past the venerable Sean Long into sixth place in the list of Super League’s all-time greatest points scorers.
Even at 35, it is no surprise Huddersfield have reportedly closed a new deal for the former Scotland captain. He remains a precious commodity.
This victory was never pretty, mind; Rick Stone’s side were 24-0 ahead in the 62nd minute but, even with Widnes prop Wellington Stanley red-carded for an alleged cannonball tackle on Jermaine McGillvary, conceded some sloppy tries in the final quarter to give Widnes a scent.
Generally, however, they controlled the ball better than the error-prone hosts who already trailed 14-0 at the break, Tom Gilmore missing a Don Fox-style penalty with the last kick of the half to sum up their evening.
There was confusion with the dismissal, too – referee Ben Thaler initially signalled 10 minutes before reaching for the red card – while incensed McGillvary had to be restrained by his team-mates as he sought his own form of retribution.
Fittingly, it was the England winger who, despite struggling with an injury, finished off a slick backline move in the resultant set to see the Fartowners shift into that 24-0 lead.
It was the fourth successive game in which McGillvary had scored against Widnes, a run that has seen him amass six tries. He certainly enjoys facing them although he then came under a barrage of pressure as, from nowhere, 12-men Widnes came back to life with tries in back-to-back sets.
Joe Mellor slipped through with a crafty try before Matt Whitley added a second in the 66th minute after Huddersfield failed to deal with a hanging kick.
With Gilmore, this time, converting both, Betts’s side sensed a Houdini act occurring – only to see Ed Chamberlain spill the restart with no one near him.
Soon after, Brough added the second of his three penalties to settle nerves, the last one coming after Widnes had stolen in again via Stefan Marsh.
By that point, Huddersfield were also down to 12 men, loose forward Ryan Hinchcliffe yellow-carded for an alleged crusher tackle that could see him in trouble with the disciplinary next week.
Brough was involved from the off, Widnes full-back Rhys Hanbury coughing up one of his early kicks to gift Hinchcliffe a fourth-minute try.
Next, Brough picked up a loose pass to set Jake Mamo free, although the Australian full-back – who had a mixed night – needless kicked ahead to waste position.
He made up for it soon after, though, by latching onto Brough’s well-placed midfield chip, Mamo showing great pace to sneak in and touch down as a raft of dozing Widnes players foolishly tried waiting for the ball to bounce dead. It never did.
Marsh spilled Brough’s next kick, but Krisnan Inu held up the charging Dale Ferguson.
When Brough turned down a penalty shot at goal, the tactic looked to have backfired when Mamo spilled the attacking play and Inu sped clear.
However, Brough got back to deny the big Kiwi centre and then Adam O’Brien, on his 150th career appearance, tackled Greg Burke just as the Widnes prop seemed certain to score.
Brough slotted a 31st-minute penalty for that 14-0 interval lead and, at the start of the second period, was on hand to palm away a threatening kick just before Marsh looked to touch down.
Widnes were incensed by a decision that went against them as Inu was penalsied for an incorrect play-the-ball. It was critical as, moments later, Ollie Roberts scored for Brough to make it 20-0 in the 50th minute.
However, that was when the game just started to get interesting. Giants, though, even without the injured Leroy Cudjoe, Jordan Turner and Michael Lawrence plus suspended Daniel Smith, secured their second win of the season. They will look to add another when hosting Hull KR next Thursday. Don’t be surprised if evergreen Brough is at the heart of that, too.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Marsh, Inu, Runciman, Chamberlain; Mellor, Gilmore; Burke, Heremaia, Chapelhow, Dean, Whitley, Houston. Substitutes: Johnstone, Olbison, Wilde, Albert.
Huddersfield Giants: Mamo; McGillvary, Gaskell, Wood, Murphy; Rankin, Brough; Ikahihifo, O’Brien, Ta’ai, Roberts, Ferguson, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Leeming, Clough, Dickinson, Mellor.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).