Widnes Run Warriors Close In Tight Contest

The Widnes Vikings gave a more than respectable account of themselves in a close run affair against Wigan, trailing by just 2 points with 5 minutes left to play after a late surge by Widnes but had let a decent halftime margin slip, it truly was anyone's game for the taking.

Wigan would be the first team to ask questions of the opposition defence, the Vikings giving away two successive penalties to give Wigan back to back sets inside the Vikings 20, Sam Powell muscling his way over and prevented from grounding the ball by 3 Widnes defenders.

Another penalty would see the Warriors set up camp on the Widnes 10 metre line, Widnes surviving once more, this Patrick Ah Van intercepting the pass and racing to the 30 metre line before being pulled down. From the resulting possession debutant Jimmy Keinhorst would go close, losing the ball as he reached out to put down and bombing Widnes' best chance of the game so far.

It seemed like only a matter of time before Wigan would score, a George Williams cut-out pass touched by a Widnes man and the Warriors would have a scrum on the Widnes 10, then a second effort on Sam Powell would once more refresh the tackle count as the Warriors were getting closer, the third set would be the one to crack the Vikings defence, Williams with the flat pass for Gildart on an angled run to open the scoring after 11 minutes, Escare unable to convert.
This time it would be Wigan punished for their ill discipline, White held down for too long by Isa and Navarrete and the Vikings starting their refreshed set on the Wigan 30, on the last tackle Gilmore kicking high and wide as Chamberlain claimed the ball and snaked an arm loose to offload to Olbison on his way down to level the scores, Gilmore converting to give Widnes a 6-4 lead after 17 minutes.

Widnes would once more cough the ball up on their way over the line, Burke this time the culprit as he charged onto the ball, carrying a couple of Wigan defenders over with him but as he stretched out he lost control and Widnes would miss their second big chance of the game.

A penalty would once more set the platform for a try, Widnes starting their attacking set on the Wigan 30 thanks to the ruling. An enticing grubber bouncing awkwardly in the Wigan in goal area and James Chapelhow the fastest to react to the loose ball and grounding to extend the Vikings lead, Gilmore once more adding the extras to make it 12-4 with 8 minutes to halftime.

Wigan would be reduced to 12 men after Tommy Leuluai took out Danny Craven as he looked to ground Gilmore's kick for a certain try, Widnes making the extra man count immediately as Hanbury broke the defence and sent the ball through the hands to put Ryan Ince over for the Vikings to send them into the half 18-4 up after another successful Tom Gilmore kick.

The second half would start in a near identical way to the first, with the exception of Wigan have 12 men for the first 5 minutes, Wigan having 3 repeat sets in the Vikings 20 followed by stern defence and a great escape to keep the Warriors out and put the Vikings in good field position.

Now back to 13 men Wigan were hunting points moving the ball from right to left, Gildart attacking the line and flicking the ball out for Joe Burgess to sprint a short distance into the corner before the cover defence could arrive, Escare once more unable to convert and Wigan trailing by 10 points with 30 minutes left to play.

Wigan would go back to back, a nice offload from Tommy Leuluai to Morgan Escare would set the French international away, Escare showing a clean pair of heels and some nice footwork to leave Rhys Hanbury chasing shadows as Wigan closed the gap to 6 points with a kick to come, Powell converting from in-front of the sticks to make it 18-14.

Willie Isa would cap off the Wigan comeback and put them back on level terms, the second rower hitting a flat ball and running a strong line to blast his way through the Widnes defence, Powell once more on hand to convert the extras to give Wigan the lead for the first time since the 11th minute of the game.

the game would be tied up once more after a Dan Sarginson high shot would give Tom Gilmore the easy decision to shoot for the sticks from 30 metres out, Gilmore converting to make it 20 a piece with 20 minutes to play.

 The next 10 minutes would be a back and forth of both penalties and mistakes with neither side able to crack the other, up until Hep Cahill would shoot out the line and charge down a kick that Wigan would recover and start a fresh set in the Widnes 20. It wouldn't take them a full set to find a gap this time though, Ryan Sutton going hard and straight at two defenders and proving too strong, Powell converting and giving Wigan a 26-20 lead in the final 8 minutes.

Widnes would get the ball back from a short kick off, setting the scene for a tense finish, especially as Ryan Ince would grab his second of the game, Hanbury with a fantastic cut out pass to put his teammate into the corner, Gilmore missing his first kick of the night and Widnes trailing by 2 points with 6 minutes to play.

A simple error from Johnstone would prove the killer blow to the Vikings chances, dropping the ball trying to play it too quickly and Wigan now getting another crack at the Widnes line starting from the Vikings 30. It would be Taulima Tautai who would well and truly shut the game out, the Warriors forward just using his power to force his way in to confirm the two pints, Powell converting to see the game out at 32-24 and leaving Widnes to rue their missed opportunities.



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