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Vikings in positive mood heading to Humberside
2:26pm Wednesday 13th February 2013 in Sport
DENIS Betts saw plenty of good things from Sunday’s derby day defeat against Saints – not least the way star signing Gareth Hock made his presence felt in a resilient display from the Vikings.
The year-long loan signing from Wigan, playing his first match since an off-season shoulder operation, came off the bench to give more than a few glimpses of the sort of threat he will pose on the Vikings left edge this term.
Despite losing the match, having veteran prop Ben Cross sent off and subsequently banned and seeing Cameron Phelps suffer an ankle injury, the way Widnes coped with the adversity thrown their way gave Betts and the home fans in the healthy 8,322 crowd plenty to be optimistic about.
Betts said: “Gareth came through it really great with no problems with his shoulder. He really enjoyed it. Although he said his first stint was a bit tough, he was more comfortable and started to come strong in the second.
“He doesn’t make a lot of errors defensively, attacking wise he tries to create something - now it’s about tempering that where we need it.
“You get presence with Gaz too and it is nice to have that in the team because that inspires the other players around him to work harder –– Dave Allen is playing well in the right edge and Macgraff Leuluai has come on leaps and bounds.”
There were a few raised eye-brows when Leuluai got the nod at the start of the year, but his big effort against Saints was a product of the way the big New Zealander has knuckled down.
“Macgraff has been rewarded for how hard he has worked in the off season with his two games,” Betts said.
“On Sunday he put Josh Perry out of the game with a fantastic tackle early on in the match.”
Widnes will be without prop Cross for Sunday’s trip to Hull KR, after he submitted an early guilty plea for his high shot on Paul Wellens, and the clash has also come too early for Kevin Brown. However, Betts revealed that although Phelps will be missing the injury is not as bad as the six-week lay-off first feared.
Chris Dean, who missed the clash against his former club with sickness, has recovered and will slot back into the centre spot after impressing against London.
But with regards to Brown’s keenly awaited debut Betts said: “Kev is on track for the game against Hull here and that was always our goal.
“He is flying at the minute and you could not ask for more effort of someone getting back in the team. He wants to be out there.”
As for Cross’s guilty plea, Betts revealed that the club did not want to risk copping a bigger ban but suggested there was no intention for the big man to go high.
“From previous experience you are reluctant to go up there and get a two match, a fine and all the rigmarole that goes with it.
“He is aggressive in his contact but he does not attack his head –– his arm starts low but comes up through the chest and hits him high.
“Ben’s tackle technique is hard to get out of him because he has been doing it so long,” Betts said.