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Vikings hang tough to beat Bradford 22-18
WIDNES Vikings have made it five wins from six - but they had to hang in there to see off a fired-up Bulls side battling for survival.
It looked like Vikings were going to romp to victory when they took a 16-0 lead, but a sin-binning just before the break threw the game back into the melting pot.
In the end Vikings, with Hep Cahill's heavy lifting and Kevin Brown and Jon Clarke's guile, had enough in them to see them home.
Widnes opened the scoring on 15 minutes when teenage half back Tom Gilmore took on the line before popping it up for Jack Owens to touch down.
Danny Tickle hit the post with the conversion, but at that stage it seemed of no consequence.
Vikings were playing well within themselves and added to their tally on 26 minutes when Brown dummied his way over from close range.
Tickle improved that and repeated the drill after Brown had again produced a carbon-copy show and go.
So at 16-0 and Vikings only just beginning to find their gears, the game turned on a big call from referee George Stokes.
A 60 metre breakaway from Bulls was halted, but when Tom Olbison regained his feet he lost the ball in the act of playing it.
The referee ruled that it was a professional foul and yellow-carded the unfortunate Chris Dean - a decision described as "atrocious" by boss Denis Betts.
With Vikings down to 12 men, Bulls scented blood and were quick to make their numerical advantage tell with Liam Sutcliffe scoring.
Luke Gale pinged over the conversion to make it 16-6 at the break, and the Bulls came out re-invigorated after the break.
They kept the Vikings dozen under the cosh for the remainder of Dean's spell in the cooker and then hit them with a sucker punch, Elliot Kear gathering a cross kick to touch down just as they were about to have their full complement restored.
Gale again slotted the tough conversion, but Vikings appeared to then ride that Bulls storm.
And on 51 minutes Pat Ah Van kept his cool to touch down a smart Cameron Phelps kick down the touchline after Brett Kearney had failed to defuse it.
Tickle's goal made it 22-12, but Bulls would not be tethered and Kearney showed his blistering feet and swerve to see off three Vikings en route to a dazzling score from half way.
Gale again goaled to make it a four-point ball game with 12 minutes to play.
Bulls threw plenty at the hosts, but some solid tackling and some brave line clearing from Paddy Flynn, Cahill and Phil Joseph bought them some breathing space.
That, coupled with the nous of Jon Clark and Brown, was enough to see them home.
Widnes: Owens; Flynn, Dean, Phelps, Ah Van; Brown, Gilmore; Gerrard, Clarke, Joseph, Galea, Tickle, Cahill. subs: Clough, Johnson,Lloyd, White.
Bradford: Kearney; Kear, Henry, Purtell, Wood; Sutcliffe, Gale; Manuokafoa, O'Brien, Walker, Olbison, Blythe, Donaldson. subs: Addy, Roberts, Mullally, Bridge.
Ref: G. Stokes.
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