Rugby League: Whitehaven's timeless win

Whitehaven 28 Widnes 6

THIS WAS the sort of afternoon that used to make teams from the soft south beyond Lancaster dread their trips to west Cumbria.

Widnes encountered a crash on the M6, rain, sleet and finally hail that stung like nettles - and, worst of all yesterday, a Whitehaven side that gave them no peace throughout the match.

Give or take a few rule changes, this was a game that could have taken place during any of Whitehaven's 50 seasons at the Recreation Ground, with a big pack going about its business in the traditional Cumbrian manner, in front of two enterprising half-backs.

Widnes had made an encouraging start to their season - and, like Whitehaven, have a highly winnable Challenge Cup tie to look forward to next weekend - but they were never allowed into this game as equal partners.

They did take the lead, though, midway through an old-fashioned arm-wrestle of a first half, through Jim Salisbury's penalty.

They soon fell behind, however, when Craig Walsh cut in from his wing and flighted a little kick over the defence which was picked off by Wayne Kitchin for the game's first try, converted by Kevin Hetherington.

Another clever kick was responsible for putting Widnes level by half- time, Paul Harris this time spotting the empty acres on the right and James Briers reaching the ball first, but Whitehaven shut the door firmly in their face after the interval.

Their outstanding back-row forwards, Graeme Morton and Gary Charlton, set up Walsh for one try, after both Morton and Walsh had seen one disallowed and the result was never in doubt after that.

After Salisbury put a kick-off straight into touch for the second time in the match and Leroy Joe had a drop goal attempt charged down to give his side another six tackles, Joe himself dummied his way through for the try that ensured there was no way back.

In the last 10 minutes, Whitehaven struck twice more through Morton and their inventive stand-off, Lee Kiddie. On this form they can be a force in the Northern Ford Premiership this season, as well as difficult opponents for Oldham and whoever might come next in the Challenge Cup.

Whitehaven: Hetherington, Lewthwaite, Seeds, Lynch, Walsh, Kiddie, Joe, Cox, Kitchin, Fatialofa, Chambers, Morton, Charlton. Substitutes used: Frazer, Bone, Vaughan, Lester.

Widnes: Salisbury, Briers, Critchley, Myler, Munro, Mansson, Devecchi, Hansen, Cantillon, Mann, Harris, Savelio, Cassidy. Substitutes used: Percival, Reid, Cross, Argent.

Referee: P Taberner (Wigan).

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