ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE!
Anselmians just about got over the finishing line to claim the bonus point win they desperately needed.....
but they were pushed all the way by a determined Widnes outfit who were perhaps unlucky not to come away with more than just a losing bonus point.
Indeed, when the home side scored two quick tries at the start of the second half, it looked a major shock was on the cards, before promotion chasing Saints clawed their way back into it to finally take the spoils late on in the piece.
But, whilst the visitors will have been delighted to have remained on target to achieve their ultimate goal, Widnes can take plenty from this contest going into the final few games of the campaign.
The slowly improving weather meant it was third time lucky as both teams finally made it onto the pitch after two earlier postponements, although the game was again switched to the ‘Lynton Crescent Arena’ for a fourth home match in a row.
The home side began the game in confident style, and had much the better of the opening period taking the lead in the early minutes as Kevin Leadbetter struck over a penalty to give them a three point advantage.
After 15 minutes, though, a Wids error in defence allowed the Saints to camp out close to their opponents line from where a strong catch and drive from the lineout saw hooker Scott Southwell crash over the line for a try.
Some indecision in defence offered the visitors another opportunity to attack, but a Quitadamo knock on helped relieve the pressure. The visitors should then have done better shortly afterwards, but a poor kick and chase option saw the ball roll harmlessly over the dead ball line and out of play.
In what was turning out to be a thoroughly entertaining encounter, it was the Wids turn to have a spell of pressure close to the Saints line as the pack went through the phases in an effort to find a way through.
Matty Walker was then forced to leave the field with an injury to be replaced by James Butler.
Towards the end of the first half, Anselmians really cranked up the pressure in the Wids danger zone, and although they were held up over the line twice, the home side were able to repel the threat and the score remained 3 – 5 at the break.
With the job half completed for the Saints, the Wids hit back right at the beginning of the second period, with a double whammy to put them back in front on the scoreboard.
First, some great football got the Wids to within earshot of their opponent’s line, from where Tom O’Neill forced his way over to score his third try of the campaign. Kevin Leadbetter then added a fine touchline conversion to make the score 10 – 5.
Then, just two minutes later, James Butler kicked ahead before winning the foot race to dive and touch down. This time, Leadbetter’s effort was wide of the target, but suddenly the home side’s advantage had quickly been extended to 15pts – 5.
Realising they were in something of a hole, the Anselmians pack upped their collective efforts and were quickly rewarded as Mario Quitadamo went over for a try to make it game on again.
There then followed two key moments in the match which would ultimately shape the remainder of this contest.
The first, saw the introduction of Kallum Friday from the bench for the Saints, and the second was the un-timely despatch of a Widnes player into the sin-bin, which immediately paid dividends for the visitors as the replacement crashed over for the try which squared things up on the scoreboard.
Minutes later, though, Widnes were in front again as Kevin Leadbetter converted a penalty following a high tackle to make the score 18 – 15 in favour of the red and blacks.
But, as they had done the previous week against Bowdon, the Saints came roaring back, and following a spell of sustained pressure close to the line, it was left to James Whitelock-Wainright to crash in from close range for what would be the match winning score.
In a thrilling finale, the home side launched a series of attacks to try and rescue a result, but in the end, they came up just short as the referee’s whistle sounded to end proceedings for the afternoon.
In what was an outstanding team effort, it was Arnie Haydock who finally emerged as the man of the match, but he was pushed all the way by any number of his team mates on the day.
+ Don't forget!
Club President Stephen Morris would like to remind friends, members and associates, that the legendary Wids Disco is back for one night only on Friday April 13th. Tickets are just £5 each and food will be available.
So, dig out those flares and platform shoes and get your tickets early or simply pay on the door on the night.
It should be a night to remember!
Mobile: 07570 550255