WHEN he reviews the tape of the match, Widnes boss Steve McCormack may well wonder how his side managed to go down to a 16-14 home defeat to Celtic Crusaders.

The Vikings had enough possession and field position to win several games, but their inability to control the ball at crucial times proved their undoing.

Another major factor was their inability to deal with the kicking game of Crusaders half-back Jace Van Dijk, particularly in the first half.

That said, even in the dying seconds it looked as though McCormack's men may snatch a win as they laid siege to the Welsh side's line, but inevitably the ball ended up on the floor to scupper their chance.

The pattern for the game was probably set before kick-off as rain swept across Stobart Stadium Halton.

It made underfoot and handling conditions extremely treacherous.

It also made catching bombs pretty tricky as Widnes were to prove.

Van Dijk launched the ball skywards on the visitors very first attack and almost created a score for winger Paul Ballard.

It wasn't long in coming, however, as giant centre Mark Dalle Cort was given enough room to slide over in the left corner.

Widnes had a strong bout of pressure on the Crusaders line, but it came to nothing and another bomb set up the position for a second Welsh score.

This time it was impressive prop Gareth Dean who barged over from close range though Widnes may question their own defence.

Mark Lennon's goal made it 10-0 on 16 minutes but the Vikings finally put their territorial advantage to some use five minutes later.

Scott Yates, who had earlier been switched from fullback to wing to escape Van Dijk's aerial assault, crashed in after quick hands from Gavin Dodd, Lee Paterson and Tim Hartley.

The scoreline reamined at 16-4 until the break and the second half started with Widnes on the attack.

On 53 minutes, Bob Beswick sold an inside dummy before racing in from 15 metres out with Hartley's conversion making it 16-10.

More or less constant home pressure continued, but it took until the 74th minute before Paterson stretched over in the tackle to get the Vikings within two points.

Unfortunately, Dodd's goal attempt bounced out of the near post.

Widnes threw everything at Celtic in the latter stages, but couldn't find the killer punch, hampered as they were by a sting of handling errors.

The end result saw Widnes gain a bonus point, but coach McCormack will see plenty of room for improvement.

Widnes: Yates (1t); Gaskell, Crookes, Hartley (1g), Dodd; Paterson (1t), Duffy; Morrison, Smith, Gannon, Hill, Gallagher, Beswick (1t). Subs: Grady, Draper, Donoghue, Fletcher.