WIDNES Vikings surrendered a 14-point lead in the last 10 minutes of their Championship opener, as they were forced to share the points with Newcastle Thunder in a 30-30 draw.

A late rally by Thunder set up a tense finish to the encounter.

Deon Cross grabbed a brace with Matt Cook scoring his first try before being forced off injured.

The Vikings fell behind after two minutes, with Kieran Gill barging over from close range.

On 10 minutes Widnes were level when Smith’s cut-out ball sent Deon Cross over. Owens converted to edge the Vikings ahead.

Four minutes later Matt Cook scored his first try for the club when he  forced his way over.

Newcastle were back within two points when Sam Wilde hit Josh Woods’ flat pass at speed on 20 minutes and raced through a hole in the defence, scoring against his former side.

Widnes replied when Owens' ball to Cross who went over in the corner for his second try.

After an Owens penalty extended the lead to eight points.

On the half hour mark Newcastle hit back to make it a two point game once again, with Ukuma Ta’ai marking his 250th career appearance with a try after charging onto Jake Shorrocks’ pass.

Shane Grady marked his return to action with a score.

Widnes defended their line before producing a length of the field effort.

Cross combined with Grady, before Owens raced over on the hooter.

The second 40 was a war of attrition, with both defences going toe-to-toe and neither attack could find a way through.

Newcastle's Connor Bailey dived over with just eight minutes to go.

With four minutes left Jack Johnson dived over at the flag to cut the deficit to four points.

With two minutes remaining, Gill managed to force his way over.

Widnes collected a short kick-off to give themselves a chance to snatch the win, but it wasn’t to be as the game finished all square.

Newcastle Thunder: Callum Turner, Jack Johnson, Matthew Wright, Kieran Gill, Alex Clegg, Jake Shorrocks, Josh Woods, Nathan Wilde, Connor Aspey, Mikey Wood, Ukuma Ta’ai, Sam Wilde, Liam McAvoy.

Subs: Evan Simons, Ted Chapelhow, Jay Chapelhow, Connor Bailey.

Tries: Gill (2, 78), Wilde (20), Ta’ai (31), Bailey (72), Johnson (76) Goals: Wright 3/6 Widnes Vikings: Jack Owens, Deon Cross, Jake Spedding, Ste Tyrer, Owen Buckley, Danny Craven, Matty Smith, Matt Cook, Lewis Else, Eribe Doro, Shane Grady, Adam Lawton, Paul Clough.

Subs: Joe Lyons, Lloyd Roby, Josh Wilde, Will Tilleke.

Tries: Cross (10, 24), Cook (14), Grady (35), Owens (40) Goals: Owens 5/6