WIDNES survived a heart-stopping last few minutes before securing their first visit to Wembley since 1993, this time in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final.

IN the end it was massive defensive effort and two moments of inspiration that helped the Vikings gain an 12-8 semi-final victory over Leigh Centurions on their home ground.

The opening exchanges were certainly fiery and a high shot from Leigh prop Mitch Clark was the catalyst for a multi-player scuffle.

Clark and Jordan Johnstone were dispatched to the sin-bin for ten minutes but while he was off it was the home side that took the lead when Ryan Brierley kicked a penalty following interference at the play-the-ball.

Widnes struggled early on to establish decent field-position but they got themselves on level terms on 13 minutes when Jack Owens knocked over a 30 metre shot of his own after Leigh had stolen the ball illegally in the tackle.

A Jordan Johnstone break finally gave the Vikings and a long pass to right winger Ryan Ince who slid for the line but was bundled into touch just short.

Another Widnes break, this time from loose forward Brad Walker, came to nought as Owens chose to kick and only found the advertising hoardings.

Ten minutes before the interval another minor altercation broke out after Patrick Ah Van caught Centurions winger Adam Higson late in the Leigh in-goal area.

Ah Van was penalised and Higson went to the head-bin but it remained 2-2 at half-time.

The second period began in the same vein as the first with the Centurions enjoying the better of the arm-wrestle.

Leigh took a two-point lead on 45 minutes with another Brierley penalty goal but the first try came the Vikings’ way and what a cracker it was.

Craven chose to run the ball on last tackle inside his own half and sent Keenan Brand away up the left. Brand's inside pass found Johnstone who showed great vision to cross-kick for the unmarked Anthony Gelling to touchdown. Jack Owens goal gave Widnes an 8-4 lead.

Leigh poured forward but were frustrated by their own handling errors.

On 66 minutes, Owens sliced through the opposition defensive line and raced to the corner to increase the lead to 12-4 and give his side one foot inside the Wembley door.

But Leigh weren’t ready to give up and after multiple sets in the Vikings ‘20’ Higson squeezed over at the corner to pull four points back and set up a thrilling finale.

Widnes survived several late scares but when the final hooter sounded, it was joy unbounded for Widnes players, coaching staff and fans.

Widnes: Owens; Ince, Dean, Roby, Hatton; Craven, Lyons; J Chapelhow, Johnstone, Norman, Wilde, Robson, Walker. Subs: Cahill, Ganson, T Chapelhow, Hansen.

Leigh: McNally; Higson, Sa’u, Thornley, Marsh; Ridyard, Brierley; Dougls, Higham, Clark, T Adamson, Batchelor, Cator. Subs: Hood, Thompson, Emmitt, L Adamson, Half-Time: 2-2 Referee: Mr B Thaler Attendance: 4,460