WIDNES Vikings battled bravely against 'derby' rivals Warrington Wolves but failed to pick up their third win of the Super League season at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

A bright start had given Dennis Betts' side hope of lifting themselves off the bottom of the table, and despite trailing at half time, Vikings kept the score close until 50 minutes.

But second half tries from Brett Hodgson, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley, two, and Brad Dwyer gave Tony Smith's side breathing room and they closed out the win to hand Vikings their eighth loss of the season.

Widnes started brightly, forcing a goal line drop out off the back of their first set of six after to forcing Joel Monaghan back into his own in-goal area. This handed the visitors a golden opportunity which they grasped with both hands, spinning the ball out right to Rhys Hanbury, who found Chris Dean on an unstoppable charge over the line. Patrick Ah Van added the extras to give the Super League strugglers a dream start.

It got better for Widnes on 10 minutes, Hanbury again the architect when his pass found Dave Allen running a perfect line through a gaping hole in Wolves’ defence. Ben Westwood had gifted the Vikings possession with a sloppy play-the-ball and after making some good metres Widnes took full advantage of the chance. Ah Van again tagged on the extras and Wolves were reeling at 12-0 down.

Widnes did have further chances to stretch their lead, with the referee twice ignoring forward passes to allow the visitors to continue their attacks. But it was inevitable that the hosts would at some point begin to threaten and when O’Brien’s penalty gave them the platform to attack, they were lethal. The young half back, who only returned from a loan spell at Widnes this week, was the creator after brilliantly riding two tackles and sending Chris Bridge, on his 150th appearance for Wolves, over unopposed next to the sticks. Brett Hodgson added the goal to make it 12-6.

Tony Smith had stern words with his side while captain-for-the-night Hodgson was converting their first try, and whatever changes he made during that time worked well, as Wolves wasted no time in adding a second try minutes later. Richie Myler scooped up the ball from dummy half and his sideways run allowed him to find Chris Bridge, who added his second of the night thanks to some weak tackling from Widnes. Hodgson’s conversion restored parity at 12-12.

Wolves were on a roll and though Joel Monaghan’s try was disallowed for a forward pass from Bridge, they soon took the lead. Widnes’ clearance kick was charged down and two tackles later, quick hands from O’Brien and Ryan Atkins sent Chris Riley free down the left flank. The hot-footed winger showed his marker a dummy and cut inside to give Hodgson a touchline conversion and Wolves an 18-12 lead at the break.

It was another bright start for the visitors after the break, holding Wolves out close to their line and twice almost adding to their tally in the opening five minutes of the half. Hanbury was denied by the video referee after looking like he had crept over on the right, before Paddy Flynn was dragged down inches from the line on the opposite flank.

It was always unlikely that Vikings would be able to hold out Wolves as the half wore on and the hosts made a breakthrough on 53 minutes. Myler waited until the right moment to release Hodgson on the left and he dummied his way through a gap to stretch the host’s lead with a try he converted himself.

It wasn’t long before Wolves made it 30-12, Ryan Atkins on the end of a flowing passing move that saw the ball move through the hands of Garreth Carvell, Myler and Riley. Atkins rarely misses a chance from only 10 metres out, and he just managed to stay inside the lines before touching down in the corner. Hodgson continued his 100% record with the boot.

Widnes were trying their best, but as the second half wore on they visibly began to tire and allowed Wolves to camp on their line. This sustained pressure allowed Brad Dwyer to touch down his first senior try for Warrington, scooping the ball up from dummy half and burrowing over to give Hodgson another simple conversion and Wolves a 36-12 lead after 73 mins.

There was still time for Riley to touch down a quick brace to complete his hat-trick inside the final five minutes, taking passes from Atkins and Myler to score twice in the left corner, with Hodgson converting one to make the final score 46-12 to the hosts.

Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Chris Riley, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Williams; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Garreth Carvell, Ben Currie, Ben Westwood, Chris Bridge. Subs: Mike Cooper, Brad Dwyer, Paul Wood, Tyrone McCarthy.

Widnes: Cameron Phelps; Paddy Flynn, Chris Dean, Willie Isa, Patrick Ah Van; Danny Craven, Rhys Hanbury; John Kite, Scott Moore, Hep Cahill, David Allen, Simon Finnigan, Magruff Leuluai. Subs: Lloyd White, Ben Cross, Kurt Haggerty, Alex Gerrard.