WAY OUT WEST FOR PARK
Widnes got their season back on track with this narrow derby day victory over West Park at a sodden Red Rocks.
It was their first win in four attempts, and the result has helped to re-invigorate their campaign following a tough opening month that saw them pitched against many of the teams who are expected to be in the final mix in the end of season shake up.
For Park, though, this will have been a disappointing result. Not only was it their second home loss on the bounce, but it was also their fourth defeat in just six rounds of the competition thus far. They did, however, have the consolation of picking up a losing bonus point from the game.
Because of the awful conditions – the weather was better suited for ducks - this game was never going to be a classic, but ultimately it turned out to be the proverbial game of two halves, with the result in doubt until the very end.
Park got the game underway which allowed Widnes the first opportunity to get their hands on the ball. And, it didn’t take long for them to make it count as a speculative up and under wasn’t dealt with effectively by the home defence, allowing Kevin Leadbetter to follow up and collect the bouncing ball before racing clear to score the opening try of the afternoon.
The visitors kept up with their forward momentum as Park struggled to find any real rhythm in their play, and they were soon able to add to their tally as Keiron Arndell crashed over for the second try which doubled their advantage.
Things continued to get better for the red and blacks, and it came as no real surprise when Widnes attacked again, from where scrum half Gavin Hatton was able to dummy his way to the line for a third try over after more good work by the Wids pack.
Despite the set-back, Park were able to respond late in the piece, but they couldn’t find a way through the visitors defensive line as the half-time whistle sounded to bring an end to the first forty minutes.
With the weather conditions continuing to deteriorate, Park began the second half with much more purpose than they had in the first. And, with captain and number eight Matt Cozens leading from the front, they were soon back in the hunt as prop forward Tom Williams crashed over from short range. Stand-off Lee Rosney added the extras to make the score 7 – 15.
The home side were visibly lifted by the score and they continued to hammer away in the Wids final quarter of the field looking for another try.
And, the home supporters didn’t have long to wait to as Park quickly crossed the whitewash for a second time. Fortunately, the conversion attempt from Rosney was narrowly wide of the mark, but the deficit was now down to just three points with plenty of time still left to play.
Under considerable pressure now, Widnes looked desperately to try and regain their earlier dominant composure in the game, but instead they had to rely on some strong defence and just occasional glimpses of what they had previously been capable of to maintain their slight advantage.
With Park continuing to have the upper hand, there was a long range touch finder from Kevin Leadbetter and a couple of welcome penalties which helped clear the danger. There was also another midfield break from scrum half Hatton combining with Tom Spencer, and then a Matty Lawton touchline dash, all of which helped to keep the home side at bay and maintain the Wids narrow advantage.
Park finished the game close to the opponents line, but in the end, there were no further additions to the scoreboard allowing Widnes to finally claim the spoils and the local derby day bragging rights.