AN UNDERSTRENGTH Widnes went down 34-22 to a highly motivated Leigh Centurions side at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday.

It provided a degree of revenge for the home team following their loss to the Vikings in the 1895 Cup semi-finals three weeks earlier.

With the 1895 Cup final at Wembley less than a week away, Vikings boss Kieron Purtill chose to take a few of his key players out of the firing line.

Jack Owens, Anthony Gelling, Patrick Ah Van, Danny Craven, Jordan Johnstone and Chris Dean were all watching from the sidelines.

Widnes looked to have slightly the better of things in the early exchanges but it was the home side that scored first when a cut-out pass from fullback Ryan Brierley put right winger Adam Higson over for six-pointer.

The Vikings hit back almost immediately with Harrison Hanson and Keenan Brand combining to get Jayden Hatton over on the left with Tom Gilmore levelling things up with the extras.

The Vikings had a great opportunity to hit the front when Gilmore broke through but Brierley didn’t buy his dummy and the chance went begging.

The remainder of the first half belonged to the Centurions.

A penalty piggy-backed John Duffy’s team into the Widnes ‘20’ and second row Andy Thornley muscled his way over to make it 12-6.

Thornley’s second try came when the Vikings failed to defuse a bomb on their own line and Junior Sa’u smuggled the ball away to the back-rower with Martin Ridyard again on target with the extras.

It became 22-6 just before the interval when a scrum move resulted in right winger Stefan Marsh dancing over against his former club.

A superb 60-metre break by Hatton up the left flank came to nothing early in the second half as a Joe Lyons pass was scooped up by the Centurions.

But it didn’t take long for Vikings to pull points back. After Higson had dropped a Gilmore bomb, Widnes exploited the field position with Hansen again playing a key role as he put Brand over on the left with Gilmore goalling superbly from wide out to make it 22-12.

The Vikings allowed the restart kick to go dead conceding a drop-out and found themselves under a spell of severe pressure.

Just when it seemed Widnes had weathered the storm they were hit by a sucker punch as ex-Viking Liam Hood charged 40 metres to the posts from dummy-half without a finger laid on him.

Widnes refused to go away and a Gilmore inside ball close to the opposition line enabled fullback Olly Ashall-Bott to sidestep over to pull six points back.

Leigh’s nerves were eased when Marsh coasted in for his second converted score made it 34-18.

Again the Vikings showed spirit and the impressive Hatton pounced on a kick through and did well to release the pass to Brand who crossed for his second try to give a final score of 34-22.

A spirited performance by the Vikings in the circumstances and now all thoughts turn to next week’s big game at Wembley.

Leigh: Brierley; Higson, I Thornley, Sa’u, Marsh; Ridyard, Reynolds; Douglas, Higham, Thompson, Adamson, A Thornley, Cator. Hood, Clark, Emmitt, Paterson.

Widnes: Ashall-Bott; Ince, Roby, Brand, Hatton; Gilmore, Lyons; T Chapelhow, Ganson, Cahill, Hansen, Robson, Walker. Subs: Leuluai, Dugdale, J Chapelhow, Farnworth.

Half-Time: 22-6

Referee: G Dolan

Attendance: 3,559