Widnes welcomed Halifax to the Halton Stadium as both of these sides were looking for their first win of The Qualifiers on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides completed their first sets well, and were controlling themselves well. However, it was Widnes who conceded the first penalty of the afternoon.
This penalty lead to Halifax crossing the line first as Scott Murrells high bomb bounced off the crossbar twice into the hands of Shane Grady who dotted down. However, the try was disallowed after Joe Mellor was deemed to have been tackled without the ball by Ben Johnston and the try was chalked off.
Jacob Fairbank was then the next to concede a penalty and gave Widnes a chance to attack the Fax line. The Super League side couldn’t take advantage as Charley Runciman was stopped in his tracks by Will Sharp and James Woodburn-Hall.
A loose offlaod from Dan Fleming rolled into Halifax’s in-goal area and Ben Johnston was pushed out of goal for a goal-line drop out.
Widnes made the most of the repeat set as Weller Hauraki ran a hard line, collected a Lia Finn pass and scored the first try of the afternoon. Krisnan Inu converted the try and the Vikings took an early 6-0 lead.
Widnes then took control of the game as a high kick from Finn lead to a miscommunication between Sharp and Woodburn-Hall as they knocked the ball on between them and the Vikings got a fresh set ten metres from the Halifax line.
The second try of the afternoon followed shortly afterwards as offloads from Chris Houston and Charlie Gubb gave Widnes the opportunity to spread the ball to the right hand edge and Inu powered over the top of James Saltonstall and three other Halifax defender to extend the VIkings lead. Inu missed the conversion in front of the Fax supporters to leave the scores at 10-0.
Halifax just couldn’t assert any dominance as, despite completing their sets, they couldn’t make enough ground into the Vikings half to pressure the line.
The following Widnes set brought another penalty to the home side as Jacob Fairbank hit Liam Finn with a high shot. Gareth Hewer took control of the situation after a flare up and deemed a penalty a sufficient punishment.
Widnes powered forward again but this time Halifax managed to hold on as Finn’s looping pass to Owen Buckley gave Woodburn-Hall enough time to push the young winger into touch.
This turned into a psychological win for Fax as they managed to force a knock-on from Widnes in the following set and then won a penalty just 10 metres from the Vikings line.
The Vikings managed to hold on though as Chester Butler was tackled on the last and regained possession.
Widnes looked to tack advantage of tiring Fax defence but Hauraki’s pass to Ah Van was at least two metres forward and play was brought back.
Halifax were working their way back into the game and were physically on top of the Vikings as the clock ticked past 25 minutes.
Scott Murrell was starting to show why he was nominated Championship player of the year as his kicking game was directing Richard Marshall’s side around the pitch.
Hauraki then gave Halifax more easy territory as his high tackle allowed the away side to kick to touch and attack the Widnes line from 20 metres out.
Widnes were made to pay for Hauraki’s error as Halifax took full advantage of their field position and James Woodburn-Hall collected an inside ball from Scott Murrell and powered over the Vikings defence to narrow the gap. Shane Grady was successful from the boot to make it 10-6 with just four minutes until half-time.
Halifax definitely the team in control as Scott Murrell trapped Joe Lyons in goal as he forced a repeat set for the away side.
Danny Walker was then deemed to have stripped the ball from Will Maher in a two-on-one tackle and Fax reset 15 metres out.
However, Widnes managed to keep Halifax out and Gareth Hewer blew for half-time.
Half-Time: Widnes Vikings 10-6 Halifax
Halifax conceded the back-to-back penalties at the start of the second half and Widnes looked to make them pay as they attacked the Halifax line. However, Joe Mellor couldn’t hold onto the ball as the rain started to fall heavily at the Halton Stadium.
Halifax couldn’t take control in the rain though and a loose offload from the away side meant that Widnes could shift the ball over to the right hand edge once more and Patrick Ah Van was the next to score in the corner. Inu converted from the tee again as they led by 10 points with half an hour to go.
Widnes gave Halifax a chance to get back into the game as Harrison Hansen hit Ben Johnston with a late hit and Fax reset 20 metres away from the Vikings line. Widnes once again managed to hold on as Ben Heaton was caught on the fifth tackle.
James Saltonstall broke down the left hand edge on the outside of Krisnan Inu but the Patrick Ah Van did manage to hold on but the fifth tackle kick from Scott Murrell couldn’t be gathered by Ben Johnston and Widnes were relieved of any pressure.
Widnes were taking control again as they stepped up their efforts in defence and Halifax let them escape their own half easily once more as Dan Fleming hit Joe Mellor with another high tackle.
Widnes did manage to cross the line in the set that followed but Ah Van was deemed to have stepped into touch by the touch judge as Halifax survived once more.
Halifax looked to take advantage of the situation but Ben Heaton was dragged into touch by Joe Lyons and Inu as the regatherd the ball on the half-way line as an hour of the game had been played.
This play led to the Vikings fourth try, and Inu’s second, of the afternoon as Liam Finn floated a little kick over to Ah Van, who tapped the ball back to Inu who then dived over into the right hand corner. He converted his own try from the touchline as Widnes took a 22-6 lead.
Inu then made 40 yards as he charged through the broken Halifax defence, and Grady desperately held on too long as the Vikings were given the opportunity to post more points.
However, Liam Finn’s floated pass to Buckley was forward according to Gareth Hewer and Halifax were let off once more.
Halifax were then awarded a penalty of their own as Charlie Gubb layed on top of Shane Grady too long according to Gareth Hewer.
Fax were looking to make Widnes pay but Will Maher just couldn’t gather the ball, if he had it would have been a certain try.
As Widnes looked to escape their own half, Krisnan Inu and Ben Heaton faced up to each other after Inu tried to get Heaton off of Patrick Ah Van.
Gareth Hewer deemed that Inu had grabbed Heaton around the head and penalised the Widnes centre.
Richard Marshall’s side couldn’t take advantage though as Ben Kaye’s fifth tackle kick was snuffed out.
Kaye then took his frustration out on the Vikings defence and his tackle on Charly Runciman was penalised for being dangerous despite the Widnes man not going above the horizontal.
Halifax had not given up just yet though, as James Saltonstall was on the end of a flowing team move and dotten down on the left hand edge to put his side into double figures. Scott Murrell converted for the away side as the gap was narrowed to 10 points with four minutes remaining.
Brandon Moore and Murrell tried to speed the game up for Fax as they finished the game well.
Not enough time was left on the clock for the away side though as a Joe Lyons kick meant that if Halifax were to score another two tries they would have to do so from 90 metres out.
The Widnes defence held out though as Butler was forced into touch by Runciman.
Despite only a minute left on the clock, Widnes weren’t finished with the scoring as Weller Hauraki kicked the ball through to Ah Van who got a hand to the ball as scored his second of the afternoon. Inu missed the conversion just as Gareth Hewer blew the final whistle.
Despite the win from Widnes, they were still all but relegated as they would need to secure victories against Toronto and Hull K.R in the next two weeks.
Halifax are still looking for their first victory and will now be planning for the new 2019 season in the Championship.
Full-Time: Widnes Vikings 26-12 Halifax
Sky Man of the Match: Krisnan Inu – The former New Zealand international instrumental for the Vikings as they still searched for survival. His brace and prowess from the kicking tee was difference between the two sides this afternoon.
My Man of the Match: Dan Fleming – The Halifax prop seemed to be all over the pitch in defence as he kept Charlie Gubb quiet for the Vikings. His powerful runs in attack also set a platform for the Fax half-backs to attack off.
Mellor, Ah Van, Inu, Runciman, Buckley, Lyons, Finn, Gubb, White, Houston, Hauraki, Hansen, Leuluai.
Subs: Olbison, Wilde, Walker, Chapelhow.
Tries: Hauraki, Inu (2), Ah Van
Subs: Inu (3/4)
Sharp, Saltonstall, Heaton, Butler, Woodburn-Hall, Murrell, Johnston, Fleming, Kaye, Tangata, Davies, Grady, Fairbank.
Subs: Moore, Maher, Jones, Cooper.
Tries: Woodburn-Hall, Saltonstall
Subs: Grady (1/1), Murrell (1/1)
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