WIDNES came within two minutes of ending Halifax's unbeaten home record before settling for a 26-26 draw at the Shay.

In a pulsating game, the Vikings produced one of their best performances of the season and will probably feel they should have taken the spoils having led 26-12 on the hour mark.

But the home side stormed back with a late brace of tries before skipper Graham Holroyd levelled things up with a penalty.

Widnes boss Steve McCormack must have been impressed with his side's never-say-die defensive effort which saw them prevent Fax from grounding the ball in-goal on four occasions over the course of the eighty minutes.

It was the first of these - a tremendous ball-stripping effort from Dean Gaskell on home scrum-half Ben Black - that was the springboard for the Vikings opening score.

Adel Fellous' superb offload sent Ian Hardman away in his own '20' and he drew the cover before sending winger Paddy Flynn racing 50 metres to the posts.

Flynn went from hero to villain on 20 minutes when he failed to defuse a Holroyd bomb and Fax centre Mike Ratu pounced to score.

Both sides had their chances to take the lead but it was Widnes who got their noses in front just before the break when Matty Smith dummied over from close range to make it 12-6.

Things looked even rosier early in the second period when impressive second row Matty Strong strolled through a gap to score with Steve Tyrer once more adding the xtras.

Second row Paul Noone was next on the scoresheet, benefitting from John Duffy's fine break and offload to make it 24-6.

Thomas Coyle pulled a converted score back for Halifax but a Steve Tyrer penalty seemed to have shut the gate on the Yorkshiremen at 26-12.

The sin-binning of Ben Kavanagh for a high tackle on 70 minutes proved to be a turning point.

Halifax took advantage of their numerical superiority to score late tries through Black and former Warrington hooker Mark Gleeson.

Jim Gannon was adjudged to have interfered at the play-the-ball as the clock ran down and Holroyd made the scores level with the penalty.

The excitement continued with a Holroyd drop-goal attempt falling short and on the last play of the game it seemed as if either side might yet snatch a result.

A standing ovation from the fans after the hooter was indicative of the great entertainment served up by both sides.

Widnes: Hardman; Gaskell, Tyrer (5g), Dean, Flynn (1t); Duffy, Smith (1t): Fellous, Beswick, Gannon, Strong (1t), Noone (1t), Paterson. Subs: Roper, Morrison, Dodd, Kavanagh.