Hughes fires Widnes' recovery

Warrington Wolves 14 Widnes Vikings 20
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The Independent Online

Widnes met the first target they had set themselves for Super League survival yesterday with a hard-fought third win in their first five games.

Warrington's best crowd in Super League did not see a classic to mark the revival of a derby tradition, but they saw the promoted side finish strongly enough to earn a valuable victory.

Widnes were trailing 14-8 going into the final quarter, but Adam Hughes, kicking in place of the injured Barry Eaton, added a penalty and then supplied a clever pass for Chris Percival to slip past Rob Smyth for the equalising try. Hughes' conversion went in off the post and Steve McCurrie's close-range try against his old team-mates clinched it.

"It probably wasn't a vintage performance,'' admitted the Widnes coach, Neil Kelly, who poured cold water on suggestions that his side is in the running for a play-off place. "We're still focusing on survival, rather than getting carried away with ourselves.''

A scrappy first half yielded two tries, the first of them highly controversial. Dale Cardoza appeared to have the ball ripped out and Warrington hesitated in waiting for confirmation of that from the referee. Meanwhile, Steve Carter romped through to touch down and the try was ruled valid, much to Warrington's disgust.

There was less argument about the equaliser, although Widnes would be bitterly disappointed by their defending. John Clarke went through a gap between the props, Julian O'Neill and Troy Stone, and then sold a dummy to go under the sticks.

Hughes put over a penalty from halfway to give Widnes the lead at the start of the second half, but Warrington finally cashed in on their wealth of possession with two tries. Sid Domic seized on a ball lost by O'Neill for one of them and then supplied the pass for Smyth to score, but the Wolves lacked the composure and quality to hold on and were booed off by a section of their fans.

"I'm sure the true Warrington supporters will stick with us,'' said their captain, Matthew Rodwell. This sort of performance, however, will test their patience.

Warrington Wolves: Felton; Cardoza, Crouthers, Domic, Smyth; Briers, Rodwell; Wood, Clarke, Hilton, Fozzard, Guisset, Marquet. Substitutes used: Hulse, Sturm, Hill, Kidwell.

Widnes Vikings: Spruce; Munro, Potter, Hughes, Percival; Carter, Weston; Relf, Cantillon, Stone, Farrell, McCurrie, Frame. Substitutes used: Atcheson, O'Neill, Richardson, Mills.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).