Widnes vanquished by Vaikona

RUGBY LEAGUE: Widnes 6 Hull 44
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The Independent Online
If there is one obvious deficiency in Super League - apart from neglected opportunities to expand into areas such as Newcastle and Cardiff - it is the lack of a team from Humberside. If Hull continue winning -and Huddersfield's defeat by Keighley puts them three points clear - that fault will be rectified next season. Whether they have the basis of a side capable of holding its own in the top division is another question entirely, but their mettle was never seriously tested at Widnes yesterday.

A club with an equally proud tradition, Widnes now languish at the foot of the First Division, their plight graphically illustrated by the statistic that they have now used 45 players in their first team so far this season.

Their usual mixture of moderate tradesmen, raw youngsters and gnarled veterans like Steve Hampson and Shane Cooper looked thrown together. The glaring lack of any co-ordination in defence gave Hull what amounted to a free ride, allowing them to score points without always having to play particularly well.

No one enjoyed that latitude more than Mark Hewitt, recently restored to his natural position of scrum half and thriving there at Norton Park to the extent of 24 points from two tries and eight goals, although Tevita Vaikona ran him close by scoring a hat-trick in the second successive match.

They were both helped by Widnes' inability to regroup in defence after an initial danger seemed to have been defused. That failing was first apparent when Hampson stopped Vaikona, only for Steve Craven to score on the vacant left-wing.

An almost identical situation saw Hewitt score his first after Sean Long had raced back to catch Rob Danby and Hull were allowed to meander all over the pitch on the last tackle before Andy Fisher's pass sent Vaikona in.

Hull's first try of the second half at least had to be created by some excellent handling, the Australians Dave Boyd and Glen Liddiard combining to release Hewitt for his second. That familiar failing then caught Widnes out once more, Andy Currier, back at his first club, catching Danby only for Vaikona to score immediately afterwards.

It was a measure of Widnes' ineptitude that Anthony Murray, a hooker signed from Warrington who did not come on for his debut until 27 minutes into the match, was clearly their best player and it was his liveliness near the line that produced their only try from Kyle White.

But Hull, without ever quite getting into top gear, hit back with Vaikona's third and a final try from Chico Jackson.

There are no doubts about Hull's ambitions, which do not stop at promotion but have also seen them linked with taking over everything from Hull City to the remnants of the deep sea fishing fleet. They will have to cast their net wider when and if they are promoted; a walkover against a team as poor as Widnes is now no sort of preparation for what might lie ahead.

Widnes: Hampson; Cross, Currier, D Myler, Kendrick; Long, Waring; Connor, Gartland, White, P Myler, Campbell, Cooper. Substitutes used: Murray, Makin, Boscoe, Hunter.

Hull: Holmes; McKenzie, Dandy, Vaikona, Jackson; Liddiard, Hewitt; Craven, Donohue, Ireland, Fisher, Boyd, Schultz. Substitutes used: Divorty, Wilson, Wheeler, Crook.

Referee: A Bates (Workington).