Two sides with aspirations of reaching the end of season play offs came together in Widnes for a round four game with the Vikings taking on Halifax Panthers in the televised match on ViaPlay Sports (formerly Premier Sports).
The sides were sat in fifth and sixth in the table, both with two wins out of their opening three matches, and both knowing that a decent win would raise them into equal second spot in the table, tucked in behind the one-hundred-percenters Featherstone Rovers.
There was little to choose between the two sides, home advantage just giving Widnes the edge n the pre-match odds.
Three consecutive sets inside the Widnes twenty for the Panthers saw Brandon Moore held up over the line on the fourth tackle when the visitors should really have opened up their account.
On eight minutes the Widnes defence was finally breached with Lachlan Walmsley going over in the left corner after a one-on-one ball steal inside the Widnes twenty gave Halifax another six. Joe Keyes was off target with the conversion attempt.
After being under the kosh for fifteen minutes it was Widnes who scored the next try when Kieran Dixon was on hand to take a pinpoint Danny Craven kick to the corner and walk in for the try. Dixon was wide with the conversion attempt, the sides tied up at 4-4.
Within two minutes the Vikings were in front as the forwards joined the party, Shane Grady bashing through the last line of defence to ground, leaving Joe Keyes in a heap on the floor and receiving treatment. Dixon found the target this time to put his side 10-4 ahead with a quarter of the game gone.
The third try came on twenty-six as Widnes took charge of the game, fast hands to the right and a miss-out pass found Ryan Miller in space on the overlap to go over in the corner. Dixon hit the mark from the touchline for 16-4, the early storm weathered and the Vikings exploiting any Panthers error.
A spectacular second for Dixon, on a scrambling last tackle play, saw the winger leap to collect a clever Jack Owens chip to the corner grounding as he fell to the ground. Dixons conversion went over off the far upright for 22-4.
On the kick-off return the Vikings scored a length of the field try with Danny Craven on hand to take the last pass after an initial Jack Owens break to score by the left upright. Dixon was once again on target, smashing his kick through the uprights for 28-4 with three minutes to go to the interval.
The Panthers started the second half brightly, but it was Widnes who continued their scoring onslaught on forty-nine, Jack Owens reaching forward to take a long pass on the last tackle and walk over the line for a simple score. Dixon was unable to convert.
Grady span out of the tackle off a short pass to score from five metres out with fifty-four on the clock. Dixon hit the target with the conversion for 38-4, it was now a matter of how many more Widnes would score.
But it was the Panthers who went in next, with nine minutes remaining, when Walmsley found space left off a Woodburn-Hall miss-out pass to touch down in the corner. The kick hit the upright, Halifax trailing by 8-38.
On seventy-six Joe Edge won the race to ground an Owens kick through for the seventh Widnes try of the night, Dixon was unable to add the conversion.
Matty Gee took a Louis Jouffret pass to score the final try of the game in the dying seconds and get the Panthers into double figures. Jouffret added the conversion for a final score of 42-14.
It was exhibition stuff from Widnes as John Kear´s side overcame a tough opening ten minutes to put in a devastating performance against a side who should have run them much closer in the final reckoning. Halifax did pick up some early injuries which undoubtedly knocked them off their game, but once they went behind, they had no answer to the fluid Widnes attack. Widnes up to fourth in the table, just two points behind the leaders.
Widnes Vikings: Owens (T), Miller, Fleming, Edge (T), Dixon (2T, 4G), Craven (T), Lyons, Lawton, Fozard, Amor, Grady (2T), Wilde, Bent. Subs: Walker, Davies, Field, Hatton. 18th Man: Brown
Halifax Panthers: Woodburn-Hall, Walmsley (2T), Maizen, Tibbs, Saltonstall, Jouffret (G), Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Maher, Kavanagh, Gee (T), Tangata. Subs: Wood, Doro, Fairbank, Matagi. 18th Man: McComb.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 8-4, 10-4, 14-4, 16-4, 20-4, 22-4, 26-4, 28-4: HT : 32-4, 36-4, 38-4, 38-8, 42-8, 42-12, 42-14 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Halifax – Square – Widnes.
Referee: Ben Thaler.