WIDNES gave everything they had at Castleford Tigers before going down 13-12 to the highly-fancied Yorkshire side.

The last few minutes of the contest saw the Tigers desperately hanging on to their single point lead as the Vikings tried to land an equalising drop-goal.

In the end, time was Widnes’s enemy.

Denis Betts went into the game without regular hookers Lloyd White and Aaron Heremaia who were suffering from illness.

Youngster Danny Walker deputised and as it turned out did a fine job at dummy-half.

The Vikings made a far from ideal start, fumbling the kick-off and conceding a goalline drop-out.

Interestingly, Widnes chose to go for a short drop-out to restart and bizzarely they did so on three further occasions in the first half. Each time, they gave the ball up to the Tigers in prime field-position.

It was all Castleford territorially early on but the Widnes defence was solid with Chris Houston standing out in the middle and Stefan Marsh making some important contributions on the flank.

Vikings’ incursions into opposition territory were few and far between and Cas were soon pressing again at the other end.

Just when it looked like a scoreless first half was likely, Tigers centre Jake Webster made a half-break and handed on to winger Greg Minikin who finished off at the corner to give his side a 4-0 interval lead.

After a nip-and-tuck start to the second half, Widnes managed to force back-to-back sets and from a last tackle play Tom Gilmore’s clever reverse kick was latched onto by second row Matt Whitley who slammed the ball over the whitewash. Gilmore’s goal gave the Vikings a 6-4 lead on 49 minutes.

The Tigers threw everything they had at Widnes but were met by desperate defence.

Several times the home side looked certain to score but somehow a Vikings player scrambled across to prevent a touchdown.

The dam finally broke on 66 minutes when a Jamie Ellis bomb caused chaos inside the Widnes ‘20’ and Cas kept the ball alive for Jy Hitchcox to score on the overlap.

Luke Gale’s conversion made it 10-6 and he quickly followed up with a penalty goal to extend the lead by two points.

When Gale dropped a goal with seven minutes to go it looked all over but Widnes hit back immediately when prop Jay Chapelhow crashed over from close range from Walker’s pass. Gilmore’s goal made it 13-12.

Gilmore had two attempts at 35-metre drop goals to try to rescue a point but both shots went wide.

A valiant effort from Widnes, but no league points.

Widnes: Hanbury; Marsh, Inu, Runciman, Ashall-Bott;; Mellor, Gilmore; Burke, D Walker, J Chapelhow, Dean, Whitley, Houston. Subs: Wilde, Cahill, W Albert, Olbison.

Castleford: Roberts; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Hitchcox; Ellis, Gale; Millington, McShane, Foster, McMeeken, Holmes, Milner. Subs: Moors, Massey, Sene-Lefao, Cook.

Half-time: 4-0 Referee: Mr C Kendall Attendance: 7,106