COACH Denis Betts believes his side can pick themselves up off the floor after Vikings’ Wembley dreams were shattered following a below-par display against Castleford.
Although Betts described his team’s display as ‘second best’, he refuses to throw the baby out with the bathwater after a season of improvement.
The key for Widnes is not to let Sunday’s events — on and off the pitch — to be a millstone around their necks for the remaining four matches of the Super League campaign.
Vikings are still in eighth, three points ahead of their nearest rivals for a play-off spot, but they will need to get some positive results from games against Huddersfield, Wigan, Bradford and Salford to hold off the threat of Hull KR.
Philosophical after the loss, Betts said: “I said to the players that you’ve just got to hold your hands up sometimes. There are no excuses, we were just second best and it was a big game.
“The challenge now is for them to get into another big game and to take away that horrible feeling they’ve got in the pit of their stomachs.
“We’re going to use this as a tool to keep pushing us forward. We’ve got some players that haven’t been in this position before and it possibly threw us a little bit.
“We had some lads trying to get them back in line, but you’re only as strong as the sum of your parts.”
The mood in the post-match dressing room was understandably one of deep despondency, but despite that Betts focused on the positive things that the group have achieved this year, even if such a demoralising defeat was a bitter pill to swallow after Wembley fever had gathered such momentum in the town.
Betts said: “It’s frustrating and there is nobody more frustrated than the players.
“They’re disappointed in themselves and in what they turned out. We’ll need to regroup and move forward from that.
“It’s hard to talk about progress with the players down there at the moment. I can see that every single one of these players has improved.
“They are getting better and there is still that belief in them but you have to get challenges like this out of the way, swallow the horrible medicine and move forward.”
Vikings have no time for self-pity — they must get on the horse for the trip to an up-and-down Huddersfield Giants on Sunday at John Smiths Stadium, kick off 3pm.