The bonus point and the win was enough to keep Wirral up, whilst for Widnes it secured a terrific third place finish in their first season back in the big time – a remarkable achievement, and one in the eye for those who said that they would struggle on their return.
And, it’s in own version of ‘Judgement Day’ all the other remaining issues were also finally settled.
As expected, Liverpool St Helens completed a demolition job on bottom club Aspatria, to finish in second spot and the play-off place. The real excitement though was down at the bottom of the table, where results conspired to send down both Wigton and Broughton Park, whilst Anselmians big win over Northwich lifted them out of the relegation quagmire.
But, back to this one though, and it was a combination of sunshine and a strong wind which greeted the players as they entered the arena. And, it was the home side who were quickly out of the blocks as they sliced Widnes open with two converted tries inside the first ten minutes to lead 14 – nil.
After that, Widnes regained some of their composure, and helped by a couple of back-to-back penalties, some breathtaking handling got Andrew Riley clear to score a try close enough for Kevin Leadbetter to convert.
After losing Hewlett to the blood bin, Widnes then conceded a penalty to make it 17 – 7, but they responded soon afterwards and full back Riley used his pace to score wide out .
Wirral responded and had a great chance to score, but the final pass went to ground and Widnes escaped further punishment.
On 39 minutes, the referee produced a red card and dismissed a Widnes player from the field, but they were still able to capitalise on their field position as Kevin Leadbetter raced clear down the touchline to score and square things up at half time.
With everything still to play for, Widnes then made the worst possible start to the second half as Wirral capitalised on their one man advantage as Page scored another good try and Craig Harvey converted.
Shortly afterwards, the hosts were then reduced to fourteen players temporarily, before a bit of fisticuffs at the top end of the field earned both captains a reprimand from the referee.
On the hour mark, Wirral exposed Widnes again and responded with another excellent try from Craig Harvey which he also converted to make it 31 – 17.
At this point, Widnes rang the changes with Simon Alderson
replacing Jon Hetherington
and George Lang
came on for Dave Welsh.
With time still on their side, and nothing to lose now, Widnes threw caution to the wind, and on 65 minutes, Phil Glover
combined with Andy Riley to get the latter over to complete his hat-trick.
In the final few moments, Widnes were able to stretch the Wirral defence one more time for Andrew Riley to score his fourth of the afternoon and wrap up a great individual effort for the full back. Kevin Leadbetter added a booming conversion to complete the afternoon’s proceedings.
Andy Riley was obviously the standout player for Widnes with his four tries, but prop forward Paul Borg
was immense with his appetite and work rate throughout the eighty minutes.
Emotions aside, both sides can claim that, in the end, honour was satisfied. Wirral achieved what they had set out to do, whilst, for the visitors, they can look back on a job well done following their promotion last term.