THEY did it the hard way, but Widnes pulled off the grittiest of 12-10 victories over Catalans Dragons in Perpignan to secure their place in Super League for next season.

Widnes coach Denis Betts brought in experienced hooker Aaron Hermaia for the injured Lloyd White.

Corey Thompson was also back in harness on the wing in place of Ed Chamberlain.

As you might expect in the circumstances ot was a cagey opening with neither side looking to chance their arm.

The Vikings had the first attacking opportunity but a Jack Buchanan knock-on scuppered their ambitions.

It was the home side that got the scoreboard ticking when Luke Wlash booted a penalty after interference at the play-the-ball.

A Tom Gilmore cross-kick caused confusion in the Dragons defence with Chris Houston going close but the video referee ruled a knock-on.

Widnes equalised the scores on 23 minutes when Gilmore slotted over an angled penalty following obstruction by Vimcent Duport.

Six minutes later, Gilmore put his side in the lead with another penalty for interference at the tackle.

With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Houston found himself in the sin-bin for a high tackle and from the resulting pressure, Walsh was able to add an equalising penalty goal following a ball steal.

The half-time hooter sounded with the sides locked together at 4-4.

The early stages of the second half was a case of more of the same and it took until the 54th minute for the deadlock to be broken.

A Hep Cahill stray pass seemed to mesmerise the home defence allowing Charly Runciman to send Thompson in at the corner.

Gilmore missed with the conversion but the Vikings looked to have taken a grip on the game when a Runciman break set up the position for Danny Craven to put centre Stefan Marsh in at the corner. Gilmore's kick hit the post and at 12-4 Catalans were still interested.

They became very interested when Julian Bousquet rumbled under the posts for a six-pointer to get them back within two points.

The final ten minutes must have seemed like an hour for Vikings fans but in the end desperate defence saw them home and kept them in Super League.

Catalans: Tierney; Duport, Inu, Wiliame, Thornley; Walsh, Myler; Moa, Aiton, Bousquet, Anderson, Horo, Garcia. Subs: Baitieri, Albert, Margalet, Navarette.

Widnes: Craven; Chamberlain, Marsh, Runciman, Thompson; Mellor, Gilmore; Buchanan, Heremaia, Dudson, Houston, Whitley, Burke. Subs: D Walker, Gerrard, Cahill, Olbison.

Half-Time: 4-4 Referee: P Bentham