Life of Bryan for Widnes
Widnes backed up last week’s outstanding effort with, what in the end, turned out to be a fairly comfortable victory against Tyldesley.
And, it was unsung hero Sam Bryan, who turned the game the home side’s way with an outstanding man of the match performance.
It was also the perfect response to a disappointing performance at St George’s Park earlier in the season, when red and blacks managed to press the self destruct button on their way to a 35 – 19 defeat. Not only that, the win has lifted them just a little bit further away from the congested lower middle area, and also gets them to within just a point of The Bongs with a game in hand.
The weather for the game was grey, overcast and cold, with a very wet and heavy pitch in places. Nevertheless, it was good to see first rugby back on the agenda at Heath Road for the first time since November.
Hoping to back up their outstanding effort the previous week at Glossop, It wasn’t a great start for the home side. They immediately came up with an error when attempting to clear their lines, which allowed wing forward Lee Davies to crash over the line for a try which was then converted by Martin Wallbank which gave them an early 7 – nil advantage.
In fact, another Widnes error just minutes later, almost led to a second try before they earned a penalty to finally clear their lines.
During that first quarter, almost everything the Wids were doing seemed to be a frustrating combination of wrong choices, poor kicking out of hand and routine handling errors. But, after that, there was just a sense that the pendulum was slowly beginning to swing in their favour.
After the sluggish start, the combinations and the passes then began to click, and it wasn’t long before Paul McLindon’s incisive run and back door flip pass found the supporting Kevin Leadbetter who raced clear to score before then adding the extras to make it 7 – 7.
That was the signal for better times for Widnes, and they were unlucky not to take the lead as captain Leadbetter was denied a second try scoring opportunity because of a forward pass.
As the half began to draw to a close, stand-off Matty Walker was forced to leave the field with an injury to be replaced by Gareth Whitfield. And, it wasn’t long before the player found himself in the thick of the action, getting onto the end of a flowing backs move to score a try and give his side a slender 12pts – 7 half-time advantage.
The home side’s new found enthusiasm continued at the start of the second period.
After bombing a couple of try scoring opportunities, a great break from Andy Owens was continued on by Sam Bryan and ended with a laser guided diagonal grubber kick to the corner by Gareth Whitfield which was swooped upon by Gavin Hatton who touched down for a try.
Realising they were now two scores behind at 17 – 7, the Bongs began to rally once again in an effort to get back into the game, but this was a different Widnes side now and they were quickly able to snuff out their responses and dispel the notion of a Tyldesley recovery.
Indeed, that soon became mission impossible as the home side made sure of a bonus point victory on the hour mark, as more quick hands and stylish support play saw the excellent Paul McLindon put Jamie Clare in for another try under the posts which Leadbetter converted.
The home side should have scored again minutes later as Mike Jones broke free down centre field, before the Bongs were finally able to make their way upfield where they were denied a try after being held up over the line.
The last ten minutes was all a bit scrappy with the result assured, the heavy pitch taking its toll and darkness and fatigue setting in. There was, however, still time for the Widnes backs to cut loose one more time with yet more slick handling and pace to get Kevin Leadbetter in for his second try which he also converted which concluded proceedings for the afternoon.
Afterwards, a delighted Head coach Lee McDermott said “I am very happy with the outcome, and we cannot have done any more than secure the five points on offer. OveralI, I thought it was a great team effort and I was especially delighted with the performances of our younger players who will provide us with a bright future”.