Vikings show purpose to see off Wigan

Jon Clarke - signed off at home in fine style

Jon Clarke - signed off at home in fine style

First published in Sport

VIKINGS finished their home campaign with one of their best performances of the season as they downed Wigan Warriors 24-10.

It was a performance full of purpose from all 17 on duty for Widnes as they almost completely smothered Wigan's attack and constantly asked questions of their defence.

It was also a wiin that leaves Denis Betts' men just one win away from securing a play-off berth for the first time.

Widnes came out of the blocks looking like they meant business.

Chris Dean had the first scoring opportunity of the game but he was tackled into touch by Warriors fullback Dan Sarginson.

The Vikings were undaunted, however, and they deservedly took the lead on six minutes.

It started with that rarest of rugby league happenings - a win against the feed at the scrum. It gave stand-off Kevin Brown the field position he needed to send Patrick Ah Van crashing in at the corner.

Danny Tickle's superb touchline conversion made it 6-0.

The impressive Eamon O'Carroll was proving a handful for the Wigan pack and it was a holding-down penalty on the former Warrior that gave Tickle the opportunity to extend the lead by a further two points.

Still Widnes pressed and a quick shift to the right found winger Paddy Flynn in enough space to squeeze over for a six-pointer to make it 14-0.

Very little was seen of the visitors in attack early on and it took them until the half hoour mark to open their account. A slightly fortuitous pass reached winger Dom Manfredi who forced his way over.

Four minutes later, the man on the other side of the field, Josh Charnley brought the Warriors even close when he outjumped opposite number Patrick Ah Van to snatch a cross-kick out of the air. Matty Smith's angled conversion brought the score back to 14-10.

Charnley had a chance to level things up on the stroke of half-time but was crowded out in the corner by the Widnes cover.

The Vikings started the second half with renewed vigour.

Charnley looked to be favourite get to a Brown kick to the corner but was out-muscled by Ah Van who touched down wide out.

Tickle again landed the difficult conversion to push the Vikings' advantage out to 20-10.

Wigan tried everything they knew to claw their way back into the game, but time and again the Widnes tacklers turned up for each other.

A further Tickle penalty pushed the score out to 22-10 and yet more indiscipline from Shaun Wane's men allowed him to add yet two more to the total.

As the rain swept in the Warriors became increasingly desperate and the more they tried to force the pass, the more often they spilled the ball.

In the last ten minutes when you would expect one of the favourites for the Super League crown to be throwing everything at Widnes, it was Betts' heroes in total control and looking the more likely to add to their tally.

As the final hooter sounded, the Widnes players rightly celebrated a victory which takes them to the brink of a play-off place.

It was also a fitting way for veteran skipper Jon Clarke to sign off at the Select Security Stadium before his retirement at the end of the season.

Widnes: Hanbury; Flynn, Marsh, Dean, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; Gerrard, Clarke, O'Carroll, Galea, Tickle, Cahill. Subs: White, Leuluai, Allen, Joseph.

Wigan: Sarginson; Charnley, Gelling, Thornley, Manfredi; Green, Smith; Dudson, McIlorum, Crosby, Bateman, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Subs: Taylor, Pettybourne, Clubb, Doran.

Referee: P Bentham Attendance: 6,223

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