Rugby League: Jackson provides necessary defiance

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Warrington. .28

Widnes. . . .14

WARRINGTON confirmed their visit to Wigan on Monday as one of matches that will decide the title by outlasting their local rivals, Widnes, to complete their first league double over them for 17 years.

The game has still not fully adjusted to the idea that the First Division is not a two-horse race, but Warrington's veteran Australian forward, Bob Jackson, struck the right note of defiance on and off the field. He scored two second-half tries as Warrington finally subdued Widnes in an entertaining if scrappy match.

After the match he promised: 'We're still going to fight for every point. Whilst it's still theoretically possible for us to win the championship, I refuse to believe that we're not going to.'

Warrington did not play with any great fluency, but they had the players capable of making the decisive moves at the right times.

Jackson's fellow-Australian, Greg Mackey, played an important part in the two tries that got them away to a flying start.

His cleverly angled kick found Widnes's wing, Adrian Hadley, turning with all the speed of the liners that used to use the nearby Manchester Ship Canal, and Mark Forster had a clear passage through to score.

Mackey then helped Jonathan Davies take advantage of a rare scrum won against the feed. Mackey got an instant pass to the Welshman, who readjusted his positioning to hit it at full pace, and stretched over the try-line.

Widnes, with little left to play for this season, came back purposefully, with Paul Moriarty taking a slick reverse pass from Steve McCurrie and Bobby Goulding adding the conversion and a penalty to bring them level.

A Davies penalty gave Warrington the lead again, but Widnes threatened to put them out of the championship running again when a centre break of real class from Karle Hammond opened the defence to send in David Ruane.

Goulding was again on target, but Warrington began to work more methodically to earn their victory. Davies put over two drop goals and one excellent conversion, Kelly Shelford found a gap in the defence and Jackson made his double contribution.

As Warrington know by now, it is not the manner of their victories or the quality of their tries that have necessarily kept them in contention. Their greatest asset is the conviction that if they carry on winning their matches, starting on Monday, they can pinch the championship.

Warrington: Penny; Forster, Bateman, Davies, Myler (Sanderson, 24); Ellis, Mackey; Tees, Thursfield, Phillips, Jackson, Darbyshire (Teitzel, 46), Shelford.

Widnes: Spruce; Myers, Hammond, Wright (D Hulme, 40), Hadley; Ruane, Goulding; Ireland (Tyrer, 49), McCurrie, Moriarty (Ireland, 63), Russell, Faimalo (Moriarty, 78), P Hulme.

Referee: J Holdsworth (Kippax).