Widnes convinced Connolly's tackle will provide lift-off

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The Independent Online

Perhaps Frank Endacott is being just a touch over-optimistic, but he believes he might have witnessed the turning point in Widnes' season last weekend.

They were leading by 12 points in a "must-win" match at Wakefield when Sid Domic, the home side's most dangerous player, broke free down the left touchline.

Gary Connolly, almost 34, carrying all manner of injuries and just back from his honeymoon, was not even in the frame. Somehow he got there to make a tackle that recalled his golden youth and dumped Domic on the gravel path.

"I'd given it up," said Endacott. "If he doesn't make that tackle its suddenly a six-point game, but it was like the Gary Connolly of old.

"It was the turning point of the game and maybe of our whole season," the Widnes coach added.

There were other things to admire in the victory that lifted Widnes off the foot of the Super League table, including an enthusiastic forward effort and a mature performance from Stephen Myler at scrum-half. Now the challenge is to produce something comparable against St Helens this evening - not easy for some of Widnes' more battle-worn warhorses.

They have another of that ilk back to reinforce their pack in the shape of Mick Cassidy, but Endacott believes they must prepare themselves for a backlash from Saints.

Their first Super League match without the sacked Ian Millward saw them thrashed 44-6 at Hull a week ago. "I don't think that does us any favours at all," Endacott said. "And they've got a new coach appointed, so they know where they're heading and that will help them."

That new coach, Daniel Anderson, is not yet in the country, but his stand-in, Dave Rotheram, is able to recall two of the new appointee's New Zealand Test squad, Willie Talau and Vinnie Anderson.

Hull are at Wakefield tomorrow and ready to close in on Saints if there is any slip up. They have Richie Barnett back in their squad after a spell on loan at Widnes, while Trinity recall Julian O'Neill after missing last weekend's game for the birth of his son.

Ben Harris, the highly rated centre from Canterbury, will make his debut for Bradford against Warrington, while London Bronco's Joe Mbu has retained his place to face Salford after his coach, Tony Rea, rated him as his side's best forward in the 34-24 defeat by Huddersfield last Sunday.

Dean Sampson has left Castleford after almost 20 years with the club.