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Widnes Vikings 26 Hull Kingston Rovers 32
10:13pm Sunday 29th July 2012 in Vikings news
WIDNES couldn't quite recreate the formula which saw them win so emphatically last time out as they went down 32-26 to Hull Kingston Rovers at Stobart Stadium Halton.
To be fair to the Vikings, they certainly suffered bad luck with injuries in a first half which saw them lose Steve Pickersgill, Ben Cross and Joe Mellor.
In that context, a relatively narrow defeat was perhaps a valiant effort, though coach Denis Betts will be disappointed that one or two of his side's early season problems seemed to resurface.
Widnes's goalline defence wasn't always what it might have been and some of their last tackle plays could have been better executed.
Still, there was a possibility they may have snatched a point in the dying seconds but the final attack of the match fizzled out when Rhys Hanbury's wide pass ended up in touch.
Rovers had top performers in Michael Dobson, Josh Hodgson and Ben Galea.
The latter has failed to reach terms with the East Yorkshire club for 2013 and must be high up on the recruitment list of a number of sides if they can match his terms.
For Widnes, it was difficult to fault the effort of second row forward Dave Allen who seemed to be involved in every tackle.
The Vikings couldn't have got off to a better start.
Before the visitors had even touched the ball, Stefan Marsh and Mellor combined up the right hand side with the latter storming over to give his team a 4-0 lead.
At that point many Widnes fans may have had visions of a continuation of the romp against Salford ten days earlier.
But Rovers had their own ideas and began to take control on the back of some profligacy with the ball by the Vikings.
A one-two up the short side on last tackle saw Dobson take a return pass from winger David Hodgson to push his team into a 6-4 lead.
Widnes were soon to find themselves 18-4 in arrears.
Prop Ryan O'Hara and hooker Josh Hodgson both forced their way over under the posts from close range with efforts the Vikings may feel they should have been able to stop.
Widnes's own attacks were becoming more sporadic and often coming a cropper through some over-eargerness letting Rovers off the hook.
However, on the brink of half-time, Hanbury, Danny Craven and young fullback Jack Owens combined to send Marsh in at the right corner to make it 18-8 The Vikings were right back in the hunt early in the second half when a wild offload by Rovers allowed Kurt Haggerty a clear 30 metre run for a six-pointer.
Rovers kept Widnes at arms length when Dobson's short ball sent Galea over to make it 22-14 but Betts' men refused to throw in the towel.
A Craven bomb was fielded by Willie Isa and from an unpromising position his intelligent grubber-kick allowed Craven to pounce to score wide out.
Hanbury's superb goal made it a two-point ball game at 22-20.
A 40/20 kick by Josh Hodgson pushed the Vikings back and saw Rovers substitute Graeme Horne capitalise and Dobson add the extras.
The Vikings needed the next score and came up with the try of the match on 73 minutes.
Hanbury sent Patrick Ah Van away up the left and the big winger intelligently kicked ahead.
A straight foot race between Hanbury and Licoln Withers was no contest and the Widnes man toed the ball over the line before regathering to finish off an 80 metre move.
It could have been the catalyst for a home win but Rovers weren't to be denied.
Fullback Louis Sheriff crashed in to restore a six-point cushion at 32-26 with just a couple of minutes remaining, though Widnes fans would point to the possibilty of 'crossing' in the build up.
The Vikings had one last chance, but ultimately fell just short.
Widnes: Owens; Isa, Marsh, Dean, Ah Van; Mellor, Hanbury; Cross, McShane, Pickersgill, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Subs: Davies, Kite, Haggerty, Craven.
Hull KR: Sheriff; Salter, Webster, Heil, Hodgson; Green, Dobson; O'Hara, Hodgson, Clinton, Laithwaite, Galea, Peterson. Subs: Paea, Withers, Horne, Griffin.
Referee: T Alibert Attendance: 5325