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FULL TIME: Widnes Vikings 32 Warrington Wolves 36
WARRINGTON Wolves held on to defeat Widnes Vikings in the festive friendly at the Select Security Stadium.
The visitors assembled a 36-18 lead by the 63rd minute but Vikings fired back with three tries in the final 12 minutes only to fall four points short after missed conversions in front of a 4,437 crowd.
Matty Russell marked his Wolves debut with a try in the fourth minute, benefiting from a Ben Currie offload inches from the Widnes try line. Gareth O’Brien converted for 0-6.
And Russell was involved in the build-up in combination with O’Brien and Rhys Evans as Kevin Penny celebrated his return to the club with an 11th-minute try to push Wolves’ advantage to 10-0.
Vikings gained repeat sets in the Warrington half and made the possession count when Danny Craven scooped up Brad Dwyer’s spill and hared home from 35 metres, with Danny Tickle landing his first conversion in Widnes colours to cut the gap to four points after 24 minutes.
Successive penalties put Denis Betts’ side in position to strike again and Tom Gilmore’s inside pass allowed Willie Isa to crash over from short range. Tickle’s extras put Vikings in front 12-10 after 28 minutes.
After a Vikings knock on though, Wolves were soon back in the lead.
Another Currie offload allowed Ryan Atkins to put Gene Ormsby over in the left corner but O’Brien was wide with the conversion, leaving Tony Smith’s team 14-12 ahead after 31 minutes.
A dabbed kick from Dwyer after his dart from dummy half fell perfectly for Atkins to regather on the run and charge home in the 38th minute. O’Brien’s goal stretched Wolves’ lead to 20-12 at the break.
Currie got on the end of another Dwyer short grubber and O’Brien converted to move Wolves 14 points clear after 47 minutes.
Gilmore fed Liam Hulme for a try on his trial and Tickle’s extras cut the deficit to eight points again after 50 minutes.
Riley powered over as the tit-for-tat nature of the scoring continued, with O’Brien’s extras putting Wolves 32-18 in front.
Jacque Peet, a 17-year-old back rower, scrambled over on the left for Wolves nine minutes after entering play as a substitute to move the score on to 36-18 at the start of the final quarter.
An overlap was worked on the right twice for Paddy Flynn to cross in the 68th and 74th minutes but with two missed conversions it left Vikings 26-36 behind.
Vikings man of the match hooker Liam Carberry crossed and Jack Owens converted with the last kick of the game but time ran out on the comeback attempt.
Vikings: Jack Owens; Paddy Flynn, Stefan Marsh, Chris Dean, Ed Chamberlain; Tom Gilmore, Danny Craven; Phil Joseph, Liam Carberry, Paul Johnson, Macgraff Leuluai, Danny Tickle, Willie Isa. Subs: , Joe Mellor, Alex Gerrard, Kieran Butterworth, Liam Hulme, Luke Menzies, Ben Kavanagh, Ted Chapelhow, Matt Whitley.
Wolves: Matty Russell; Kevin Penny, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby; Jordan Burke, Gareth O’Brien; Danny Bridge, Brad Dwyer, Glenn Riley, James Laithwaite, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Currie. Subs: Ryan Maneely, Joe Philbin, Tom Walker, Ben Evans, James Saltonstall, Toby King, Jacque Peet, Jack Johnson, Andy Ackers.
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