Hull KR 29 Widnes 16: Rapid Rovers confirm Super League destiny

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Rovers played at Super League pace yesterday to claim the Super League place which has looked to be their destiny all year.

The league leaders made light of Widnes' greater top-flight experience by running them off their feet in the first half of the National League One Grand Final, leaving them with just too much to do during a spirited second-half fightback. Over the 80 minutes, the Robins were too clever, too organised and most of all too quick.

It completed a marvellous weekend for one of the games' great cities, with Hull qualifying for the Grand Final in Super League and Rovers now there with them to revive the Derby tradition.

"I can't wait,'' said Rovers' coach Justin Morgan. "I'm looking forward to playing all of them. These guys are great footballers and will relish the opportunity to play on the big stage. The first 40 minutes was the best we've played all year. We showed a real spring in our step and took a lot out of Widnes' energy levels.''

Widnes' Steve McCormack, absorbing his third Grand Final defeat as a coach, was forced to agree. "We knew what Hull KR would do, but we didn't control the rucks early on,'' he said. "Good luck to them next season. They've got a young, vibrant squad."

Rovers put Widnes under relentless pressure by dictating the fast early tempo. It was pressure that paid off in the sixth minute when Scott Murrell's kick forced Damien Blanch to carry the ball over his try line and, from the position, Rovers opened up the same wing with Ben Fisher and Jon Goddard handling to send Byron Ford over.

Far from freezing on the big occasion, Rovers were already threatening to blow the opposition away, with the Widnes full-back Gavin Dodd twice having to clean up threatening kicks.

It was amazing that there were only four points in it, but that was put right after 18 minutes when James Webster hoisted a kick. Neither Blanch nor Sean Gleeson could deal with it and Goddard touched down.

Rovers were perhaps fortunate then to be awarded a scrum feed when a kick deflected out of play. Predictably, they took full advantage, with Murrell going over from dummy half. With Morton adding another goal they were already nearly out of sight.

When Widnes finally threatened through Blanch's kick and chase, Fisher appeared to have defused the situation, but the Vikings made something of their continued possession, moving the ball to the left for Dodd to score from Mick Cassidy's pass.

It was Widnes' only good moment of the first half and it was soon cancelled out, Dwayne Barker losing the ball in a tackle only for his team-mate Ben Cockayne to pick up the loose ball and give Goddard his second just before half-time.

At the start of the second half, Barrie McDermott summed it up by losing the ball. Murrell made the break and Webster sent Pat Weisner over. That was the signal for a major effort from Widnes, with tries from Ryan Candy and Blanch, who went close to another. But Rovers, aided by Morton's late penalty, had enough in reserve and now begin the task of building a side that can hope to stay in Super League next season.

Hull KR: Cockayne; Rivett, Morton, Goddard, Ford; Murrell, Webster; Aizue, Fisher, Tangata-Toa, Morrison, Michael Smith, Gallagher. Substitutes used: Weisner, Barker, Netherton, Wilson.

Widnes: Dodd; Blanch, Gleeson, Cardiss, Kirkpatrick; Moran, Watson; O'Connor, Mark Smith, McDermott, Cassidy, Allen, Beswick. Substitutes used: Summers, Wilkes, James, Tandy.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).

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