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London Broncos 28 Widnes Vikings 24
2:47pm Monday 11th June 2012 in Vikings news
WIDNES Vikings quest for their first away victory of the season fell just short as they went down 28-24 at London Broncos.
Denis Betts' men will feel they had their pockets picked as they went into the dying seconds at The Stoop desperately hanging on to a 24-22 lead.
But with the very last play of the game, the impressive Julien Rinaldi fed prop Antonio Kaufusi who blasted over from five metres for the Broncos.
It meant heartbreak for the small travelling band of Widnes fans and also signalled their team's return to the bottom of the Stobart Super League table.
When they look back at the game, Widnes will reflect on missed opportunities and the amount of possession they gifted to their opponents, particularly in the first half.
The Vikings took the lead after just three minutes when fullback Cameron Phelps breezed in from 20 metres from a Jon Clarke pass.
Patrick Ah Van's conversion made it 6-0 and there was every reason to believe it could be a productive afternoon for the Vikings.
However, the home side dominated possession for almost the remainder of the opening period.
Australian scrum-half Craig Gower levelled things up when he crashed over from close range on 13 minutes.
The Broncos should really have capitalised further as they spent long spells on the Widnes line but it took until the 34th minute for them to hit the front.
Smart work up the blind side by Rinaldi allowed winger Omari Caro enough space to cross wide out with Shane Rodney's second conversion giving his side a 12-6 lead.
It looked likely to stay that way up to the break until Frank Winterstein took advantage of a rare attacking foray to force his way over from 15 metres.
Ah Van's goal sent the sides into the dressing rooms on level terms at 12-12.
The start of the second half was a carbon copy of the first with Phelps again crossing from a Clarke pass to take Widnes six points clear.
Just when it looked like the Vikings were beginning to exert a stranglehold on the game, a break by speedy winger Kieran Dixon created the field position for London substitute Tony Clubb to once more level the scores.
The Widnes line survived several more scares thanks to some heroic last-ditch defence, notably from right winger Paddy Flynn, before they once more hit the front.
Half-backs Clarke and Hanbury combined to send Winterstein surging to the line for his second six-pointer of the game, giving his side a 24-18 advantage.
The Broncos upped the tempo and laid siege to the Widnes line.
A seemingly endless assault eventually bore fruit when quick-footed stand-off Dan Sarginson squeezed between two defenders to score.
Rodney's goal attempt rebounded out off an upright leaving Widnes clinging to a 24-22 lead.
They looked certain to enhance that when Ah Van won the race for a grubber-kick into the Broncos in-goal area but he was unable to ground the ball.
Still, with the clock running down (except on the official stadium timepiece which had become mysteriously stuck), it looked like the Vikings were going to hang on.
And if they could have held out for one more tackle they would have done.
But the Rinaldi-Kaufusi double-act snatched the game from their grasp. London Broncos: Robertson; Dixon, Howell, O'Callaghan, Caro; Sarginson, Gower; Wheeldon, Randall. Kaufusi, Golden, Rodney, Bailey. Subs: Bryant, Lovell, Rinaldi, Clubb.
Widnes: Phelps; Flynn, Isa, Dean, Ah Van: Clarke, Hanbury: Cross, McShane, Pickesgill, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Subs: Gilmore, Davies, Haggerty, Leuluai.