WIDNES Vikings provided their supporters with festive cheer in a 26-22 friendly win against arch-rivals Warrington Wolves.

Denis Betts’ side assembled a 26-0 lead inside 45 minutes but had to fend off a responding rally from The Wire in bitterly cold conditions at the Halton Stadium.

Young full-back Olly Ashall capped an impressive display with two tries, while Stefan Marsh, Owen Buckley and Keanan Brand also touched down in front of a 3,116 crowd.

Vikings opened the scoring from their first threatening attack of the Warrington line in the fifth minute.

A first penalty led to Tom Gilmore darting left and flipping up a smart inside pass for Olly Ashall to skirt through a huge hole from 10 metres. Gilmore converted.

Vikings held out on their own line as The Wire looked to get back on level terms in the 12th minute, when sturdy defence was particularly needed to prevent Mike Cooper crossing from a determined run.

A huge hit from hooker Jordan Johnstone resulted in Bryson Goodwin’s Wire debut lasting 19 minutes, as the former South Sydney Rabbitohs centre left the field dazed.

Arms were swinging in a melee in centre field a few minutes later, with Wolves forward Ben Westwood paying the price with a visit to the sin bin.

Widnes capitalised with Ashall angling his way over from a scrum move in the 26th minute and Gilmore converted for 12-0.

The Wire were back at their full complement when it took three of them to block Ireland international Ed Chamberlain’s attempts to cross against his hometown club in the 38th minute.

Wolves lost their second centre Toby King with a facial cut shortly before the break but it was on the opposite flank that Widnes exposed some weakness, Ashall’s superb kick return laying on the platform for Marsh to wiggle over from Joe Mellor’s pass late in the set for 16-0.

And there was still time in the next set for Owen Buckley to leap high and collect Gilmore’s kick for try number four late on in the 50-minute opening half.

Five minutes into the second half a kick dabbed over the try line touched down after a scramble by Keanan Brand was fine reward for Marsh’s long break earlier in the set. Gilmore added the extras.

Wolves finally got on the scoreboard midway through the second half through former Vikings loan star Jack Johnson, dancing his way over on the angle. Harvey Livett kicked the conversion, leaving Vikings 26-6 in front.

Scotland winger Matty Russell thought he had got over for Warrington’s second try seven minutes later but referee Chris Campbell called play back for an obstruction.

The second try did come in the 70th minute when Toby King plucked Harvey Livett’s kick out of the air but the conversion attempt failed.

King pulled off the same trick again five minutes later, on this occasion from Dec Patton’s kick, and with Livett landing the conversion the gap was reduced to 10 points.

Late on Pat Moran barged over from first receiver after a penalty was awarded and Patton’s conversion left The Wire within touching distance but Vikings managed to hang on.

Vikings: Olly Ashall; Keanan Brand, Ed Chamberlain, Stefan Marsh, Owen Buckley; Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore; Greg Burke, Jordan Johnstone, Jay Chapelhow, Chris Dean, Matt Whitley, Brad Walker. Subs: Lloyd Roby, Sam Walters, Dan Norman, Sam Freeman, Joe Lyons, Ted Chapelhow, Tom Olbison, Danny Walker, Sam Wilde, Owen Farnworth.

Wolves: Jack Johnson; Matty Russell, Bryson Goodwin, Toby King, Tom Lineham; Harvey Livett, Declan Patton; Mike Cooper, Morgan Smith, George King, Joe Philbin, Luis Johnson, Ben Westwood. Subs: Pat Moran, Ellis Robson, Joe Pilling, Brad Pinder, Mitch Brown.