SKIPPER Mark Smith was the hero as Widnes Vikings pulled off a last-gasp 32-28 victory against Whitehaven at Stobart Stadium Halton.

There was just a minute left on the clock and the Vikings were trailing 28-26 when Gavin Dodd's speculative kick seemed to be drifting harmlessly towards the dead ball line.

But Smith doesn't know the meaning of a lost cause and he miraculously plucked the ball out of the air and touched down with inches to spare.

The Vikings will also be grateful for a four try contribution from Dean Gaskell, who continued his outstanding form on the right flank.

It was tough on Whitehaven who had given their all after a troubled week's preparation.

Their coach Paul Crarey resigned having taken ill earlier in the week and was replaced by New Zealander Ged Stokes.

But they came to Widnes with a devil-may-care attitude which saw them dominate for long periods.

Widnes fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were in for an easy afternoon as the Vikings scored a simple try in the opening minute.

Smith was the architect as his long pass sent centre Tim Hartley dummying his way over.

But Haven had their own agenda and took the lead on seven minutes when Tongan centre Saia Makisi forced his way over from dummy-half with Carl Rudd adding the extras.

Just four minutes later and the visitors were in again with winger Ade Adebisi sprinting clear from 60 metres for a six-pointer and Rudd added a further score from his own astute grubber kick to make it 18-4.

Widnes hit back when Gaskell latched onto an Ian Hardman pass to go over wide out and he followed it up with a second try from Bob Beswick's long cut-out pass.

Hartley failed with both conversions, but the Vikings seemed to be getting a grip on the game until an error by fullback Gavin Dodd gifted Adebisi his second try with Rudd again adding the extras to make it 24-12.

With the break looming, Widnes substitute Shane Grady was on the end of a fine passing movement to pull four points back.

A Rudd penalty pushed the Haven lead out to 26-16 shortly after the resumption but the Vikings narrowed the gap when Gaskell registered his third try, leaping high to catch a John Duffy bomb in-goal.

Another Rudd penalty made it 28-20 but Gaskell's fourth try and Hartley's first successful conversion of the afternoon set up a grandstand finish with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Whitehaven hung on bravely, but just when it looked as though they were going to take the spoils, up popped Smith.

The victory means Steve McCormack's men have wiped out the nine-point penalty they incurred before the start of the season.

Widnes: Yates; Gaskell (4t), Hardman, Hartley (1t,2g), Dodd; Paterson, Duffy; Morrison, Smith (1t), Gannon, Hill, Noone, Beswick. Subs: Grady (1t), Gallagher, Donoghue, Kavanagh.