WIDNES Vikings put the finishing touches to their off-season campaign with a strong display in their narrow 18-16 defeat in France against Catalan Dragons.
Denis Betts’ men dominated the opening hour and they only allowed the home side a toe-hold in the game after making some extensive changes to the team in the last quarter of an hour.
The match showed that Vikings will be ready to hit the ground running by the time London Broncos come to town on February 16.
Betts said: “It was an encouraging performance and a reinforcement of where we have been this off season. But it was a pre season game and we can only read so much into it.
“We had a couple more opportunities to score points in the game and had we taken them they would have been too far away.
“Maybe going to Catalan and winning the game would have put us on the radar a little bit sooner than we would want to be on the radar.
“The perspective from my point is that for 65 minutes Catalan didn't look like scoring a point.
“We made some changes and changed our structure and they got a bit of fire in their bellies. Two quick tries gave them that hunger to go after that third.”
With Vikings missing injured hookers Lloyd White, Jon Clarke and Liam Carberry, they opted to give Danny Craven a blast at nine – and he came up with an impressive display.
“Danny’s pre-season training form has been high but he played 80 minutes at 9 and was outstanding.
“That was a real bonus. We might have Lloyd and Jon available for start of season but that does give me an option and that will make us stronger,” he said.
Clarke was suffering from tightness in his lower back and White had an operation on his knee to remove some cartilage a month ago.
The news on new signing Carberry’s broken leg is worse than had earlier been expected, with Betts revealing that he could be out between four and six months.
“It is pretty bad what he has done – the break is simple enough but it's the mess he has made of his ankle that is the problem.
“He has had to have a couple of things stapled in and a couple of thinks fixed with his ligaments.
“They are rough breaks for the kid but I have said to him he's young, got loads of ability and has character and is a good kid. Although he has had a tough two years he has enough about him to create a career,” he said.