WIDNES ended their regular season campaign with a 52-24 loss to Castleford Tigers at Halton Stadium.

It was the Vikings sixteenth consecutive loss in Betfred Super League and they now face a daunting Qualifiers campaign which includes trips to Toronto and Toulouse.

Widnes boss Francis Cummins once again rang the changes with new signings Liam Finn and Harrison Hansen coming in at scrum-half and second row respectively.

Chris Dean returned in the pack for his first game after a long injury lay-off, Ryan Ince was back on the right wing and Tom Olbison started at prop forward.

Widnes were hit with an early blow when centre Krisnan Inu was harshly sin-binned for a tip-tackle.

The Tigers took advantage of their extra man when a tyoical right to left shift created the space for Greg Eden to score at the left corner.

Despite being a man down, the Vikings hit back when Hanbury joined the line and sent Ah Van over with the big Kiwi converting his own try from wide out.

On 16 minutes, Widnes increased their lead to 12-4 when a grubber kick from Liam Finn bounced kindly for Hanbury to gather and cross at the posts.

Just as everything seemed to be going the Vikings way, they were hit by a momentum-changing sucker punch.

Joe Mellor sneaked up the blindside but his pass was intercepted by Eden who raced 50 metres to the line.

It was the start of a golden spell for Castleford who ran in four tries in the space of seven minutes with Jake Trueman crossing and Quentin Laulu-Togagae grabbing a quickfire double to make it 28-12 on the half-hour.

Having finally regained a foothold in opposition territory, the Vikings pulled six points back before half-time courtesy of a converted try for debutant Hansen from a Finn short ball.

Cas came out for the second looking confident and had already fluffed one chance before Oliver Holmes sprinted through a huge gap to go 40 metres to the line to make it 34-18.

Mitch Clark increased the visitors lead by a further six points after winger James Clare had claimed a high kick.

A spell of Widnes pressure ended disastrously when Finn’s looping pass was claimed by Eden who ran the length of the field for his second interception try and his third in all.

The Vikings had an Ah Van try disallowed for obstruction and Danny Walker was held up over the line.

Eventually a second half try did come Widnes’ way when Ah Van touched down for his second score from a Finn cross-kick to make it 46-24.

However, it was Castleford who finished things off when Adam Milner barged over from close range.

Widnes: Hanbury; Ince, Inu, Whitley, Ah Van; Mellor, Finn; J Chapelhow, D Walker, Olbison, Dean, Hansen, Hauraki. Subs: Leuluai, Farnworth, Craven, T Chapelhow.

Castleford: Laulu-Togagae; Clare, Mata’utia, Shenton, Eden; Ellis, Trueman; Watts, McShane, Massey, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Moors, Sene-Lefao, Clark, Turner.

Half-time: 18-28

Referee: Mr L Moore

Attendance: 4,218