Widnes 25 York 18: Nanyn ensures Widnes promotion campaign avoids losing start

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The Independent Online

Widnes' campaign to regain their Super League place got off to an unconvincing start yesterday as it took them most of the afternoon to get on top of opponents who were playing two divisions below them last year.

Only the immaculate goal-kicking of Mick Nanyn, who also scored two tries in his haul of 16 points, separated the sides.

But if this was not a performance to set National League One trembling, the Widnes coach Steve McCormack was philosophical. "It was a winning start and that's what mattered," he said.

There have been mixed signals coming out of the Halton Stadium in the preamble to the league season, with some lacklustre displays in the Northern Rail Cup followed by an outstanding victory over a Super League side, Castleford, in the Challenge Cup.

On paper, Widnes should be too strong for most teams at this level. Admittedly, they were without their thoroughbred Australian full-back, David Peachey, thanks to a back injury, but their all-former Wigan pack has a battle-hardened look, consisting as it does of three full internationals and three Academy internationals.

Perhaps a team of ex-Wigan players is not the guarantee of quality it once was, because Widnes were a poor second to a side promoted last year for most of the first half. Breaks from both York half-backs, Scott Rhodes and Phil Hasty, threatened to embarrass the home side before Widnes took the lead against the run of play.

One of their Wigan contingent, Bob Beswick, made the running and Damian Reid was there to finish the move.

Far from discouraged, York hit back with two tries in four minutes midway through the half. Hasty and Neil Law were involved in both, setting up David Buckley and Craig Farrell as they probed the vulnerable right-hand side of the Widnes defence.

Widnes had their noses back in front by half-time when Nanyn got in at the corner and kicked his second goal from the touchline, but York regained the initiative soon after the break through Matt Blaymire.

The arrival of Lee Marsh made a difference for Widnes as he scored with his first touch and when Nanyn claimed his second try they finally had some breathing space.

But after Marsh dropped the ball over the line on his way to what would have been a clinching try, Farrell claimed a second from Hasty's clever kick to leave Widnes sweating on a one-try lead.

Mark Smith's drop goal made the points safe, but McCormack will know that his side must do better than this if they are to be back where they aspire to be in 12 months' time.

Widnes: Cardiss; Dodd, Reid, Nanyn, Kirkpatrick; Coyle, Durbin; O'Connor, Beswick, McDermott, Cassidy, Allen, M Smith. Substitutes used: Summers, Heaton, Marsh, Draper.

York: Blaymire; Fox, Spicedr, Law, Farrell; Rhodes, Hasty; Sullivan, Liddell, Bovill, J.Smith, Buckley, Patterson. Substitutes used: Elston, Ward, Blanchard, O'Loughlin.

Referee: M Dawber (Wigan).