Wakefield climbed above Widnes in the Super League table as they became only the second visiting team to win at the Stobart Stadium this season.
The Wildcats were a surprise top-eight side last year and they showed the same sort of resilience to edge out the Vikings in a match which was always entertaining if rarely technically perfect.
It took just 40 seconds for the deadlock to be broken, Dean Collis breaking down the right and kicking ahead. The Papua New Guinea hooker Paul Aiton, a surprising omission from the Exiles squad announced this week, raced up in support to gather and score.
Four minutes later, Widnes were level, an eccentric bounce from a Kevin Brown kick eluding Lee Smith for Brown to follow up and touch down. Gareth Hock should have put the Vikings ahead, but lost the ball on the line. There was a double punishment, because the Wildcats went straight to the other end for Tim Smith to score.
Widnes squandered another chance from Patrick Ah Van’s break, but Ben Cockayne showed them how to do it, getting on the end of Paul Sykes’ pass to go low and scramble over to make it a 10-point lead for Wakefield.
Widnes made it a close-run thing at the interval when Joe Mellor claimed their second try after Lee Smith again failed to clean up a kick. Widnes seized the initiative in the second half, Ah Van cleverly keeping the ball in play for Brown to score and Chris Dean claiming the try that put them ahead.
The key score came when Oliver Wilkes took Aiton’s pass and went through a strangely static Widnes defence more like a centre than a prop forward. Lee Smith’s penalty effectively made it safe, although Phil Joseph underlined the closeness of the contest with a try after the final hooter.
Widnes: Hanbury; Isa, Dean, Phelps, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; Cross, Clarke, O’Carroll, Winterstein, Hock, Leuluai.Substitutes used: Pickersgill, White, Joseph, Lawton.
Wakefield: L Smith; Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne; Sykes, T Smith; Wilkes, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Substitutes used: Wood, Amor, Mellars, Annakin.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).