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Vikings' bid to avoid wooden spoon is in their own hands
VIKINGS have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the wooden spoon in their first season back in the top-flight after tucking another high-profile scalp into their belts.
Although there is no relegation under the three-year licensing system, professional pride is at stake which has fuelled Widnes’ drive to climb off the basement at the back end of the season.
With an away game at on-song Wakefield Trinity and home clash with neighbours Warrington wrapping up the season, Vikings will need to get a result from somewhere to have a chance of leap-frogging Castleford and London.
Vikings assistant coach Mick Cassidy said: “Nobody wants to finish bottom and there are still three teams who can finish there. “London have come good and Castleford seem to be sliding a little bit and looking more to next year.
“Our destiny is in our own hands if we perform like we did at the weekend we could come away with another two wins.”
London’s final two games are against St Helens and Hull KR, with Cas playing Catalan and Hull FC in the run in.
Although Vikings still have a lengthy casualty list – something that has made a massive impact on the way the season has panned out – the return of Shaun Briscoe and Ben Kavanagh after long lay-offs have provided a timely boost.
“It has taken Shaun a while to get into the team because of injuries but you see what he brings – his talk, commitment and experience. It is good to have him in the team. We had plenty of experience in the team on Saturday.
“We trained well all week, we knew we needed a performance irrelevant of the scoreline and we defended well which has been a big element of the second part of the season.
“Our board with the squad list on has plenty of long and short term injuries – and was so long that the season could have finished five weeks ago for us.
“Having Kavanagh and Briscoe back has been important, and that has put pressure on places. You can fire your players up as much as you can but when there is competition,” Cassidy said.
Despite being hit by injuries to key players, Vikings have undergone something of a transformation since the Magic weekend hammering by Warrington in May. That has seen them win four of their last ten games and suffer last minute heartache in two others – against Saints and London.
Director of rugby Paul Cullen has his own ideas about what has occurred to give the team and supporters a buoyant feeling going into the off-season.
He said: “What we have been doing is picking our fight carefully. So we knew it would be nigh on impossible to get a win at Leeds with the squad we had available the other week – but we made sure we had some fit, fresh and alert bodies for the home game against Hull. “Picking our fights well is what we have tried to do. “There are some results away from home this year that we wish had not happened but sometimes you have to go on the ropes and cover up and take the punches.
“But when it has been a relatively fair fight then we have stood up and had one.”
The kick off for Vikings’ game at top-eight seeking Wakefield on Sunday, 2 September has been put back to 6.45pm for television.