IT'S all uphill now for Widnes after they went down 28-14 to Warrington Wolves in the first round of the Qualifiers at Halton Stadium.

The Vikings held a 14-6 lead with half an hour remaining but succumbed to a late onslaught from the Wolves.

The Vikings preparations were disrupted after it was revealed, the day before the game, that playmaker Rangi Chase had been tested positive for cocaine and was immediately suspended.

That gave an opportunity for Danny Craven to come into the team to partner Joe Mellor in the halves.

Craven represented one of half-a-dozen changes Widnes coach Denis Betts made from the previous game against Warrington a fortnight earlier.

It was the visitors who got the scoreboard ticking after just three minutes.

Quick hands saw Kevin Brown send second rower Jack Hughes striding over for a try improved by Dec Patton.

Hooker Daryl Clark went close to adding to the Wolves lead but was dragged down by Rhys Hanbury.

It took the Vikings a while to find their feet but they gradually worked their way back into the game.

On 14 minutes, pressure on the Warrington tryline saw prop forward Jack Buchanan show good footwork to force his way over with Lloyd White's conversion levelling things up at 6-6.

Widnes continued to press and centre Charly Runciman was hauled down agonisingly short by the scrambling Wolves defence.

But the Vikings wouldn't be denied on the half hour when a switch play saw White give a return pass to Mellor who raced to the posts for a six-pointer.

Another half chance just before the break was brought to halt when winger Stefan Marsh was tackled to leave the half-time score at 12-6.

Widnes increased their lead by two points after Mike Cooper was adjudged offside on 47 minutes and White added a fine angled penalty.

However, just three minutes later, a sweeping Wolves handling move saw Tom Lineham squeeze in at the corner with Widnes fans questioning the legitimacy of both the final pass and the grounding.

Warrington now had their tails up and further pressure at the Widnes end saw Patton dance through from close range and add the extras to give his side a 16-14 lead with 17 minutes remaining.

The Vikings stormed back with Mellor sending Marsh away and from the resulting pressure Marsh, again, was stopped inches short.

The Wolves then hit Widnes with a sucker punch when they moved the ball on the last tackle and Matty Russell finished off at the corner with Patton converting.

A Patton penalty followed in short order giving the visitors a 24-14 lead on 70 minutes.

It was now all Warrington and New Zealand centre Peta Hiku ghosted through to make the final score 28-14.

Widnes: Hanbury; Thompson, Bridge, Runciman, Marsh; Mellor, Craven; Buchanan, White, Dudson, Houston, Whitley, Cahill. Subs: Manuokafoa, J Chapelhow, Olbison, Johnstone.

Warrington: Ratchford; Russell, Hiku, Atkins, Lineham; Brown, Patton; Hill, Clark, Sims, Jullien, Hughes, Cooper. Subs: G King, Savelio, Philbin, Smith.

Half-Time: 12-6.

Referee: Mr P Bentham.

Attendance: 6,202.