Widnes finish bottom but remain in credit
Widnes 14 Warrington 52
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
The Stobart Stadium
Monday 10 September 2012
Widnes carried off the wooden spoon for which they were clear favourites at the start of the season, but they did so with the bare minimum of recriminations. Despite a heavy defeat by their depleted local rivals, the Vikings' players were accorded a lap of honour at the end of a demanding first year back in Super League.
"They've seen effort," said coach, Denis Betts, of the crowd's reaction. "There's something to build on. To win six games, in the middle of the season we would have taken that. People who have come have had value for money, because we've been competitive."
The fact remains that Widnes finished bottom of the table for the first time in their history – albeit with a steadily improving side. Their third defeat of the season by Warrington was confirmation of what they already knew –that there is a long way to go before they are able to compete consistently with the best.
With the play-offs and next Saturday's date with St Helens in mind, the visitors chose to rest six members of their side who secured a third Challenge Cup in four years at Wembley last month. They were slightly taken aback by Widnes' early enthusiasm when Frank Winterstein went over from close range.
It was very much business as usual after that. Lee Briers' probing led to Mickey Higham going in from dummy-half and further tries followed at regular intervals.Some lovely, crisp handling put Rhys Williams in on the right flank, followed by Stefan Ratchford kicking imaginatively for Chris Riley on the right.
The time was then ripe for David Solomona, who has not been offered a contract for next season, to take his chance to show that he could still have something to offer in what remains of this. His impact was immediate, setting up Ratchford with a typically visionary pass and then storming through for a try of his own to put his side out of reach.
Matty Blythe's run then released Riley for his second and further scores flowed from Chris Hill, Higham with his second, Ryan Atkins and Paul Wood, with Solomona getting the traditional honour of the final conversion in his last regular season game after moving to Warrington from Bradford in 2010.
Widnes were never quite out of it and were rewarded with tries from Paul McShane and Rhys Hanbury – plus a warm reception from fans who appreciated their effort and improvement.
Scorers: Widnes: Tries Winternstein, McShane, Hanbury; Goals Hanbury. Warrington: Tries Riley 2, Higham 2, Williams, Ratchford, Solomona, Hill, Atkins, Wood; Goals Briers 6.
Widnes Owens; Flynn, Dean, Phelps, Isa; Mellor, Hanbury; Davies, Clarke, Pickersgill, Winterstein, Allen, Haggerty. Replacements: Kavanagh, Leuluai, Gerrard, McShane.
Warrington Ratchford; Riley, Bridge, AtKins, Williams; Briers, Myler; Wood, Higham, Hill, McCarthy, Grix, Harrison. Replacements: Morley, Cooper, Blythe, Solomona
Referee S Ganson (St Helens)
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