Northwich 22 Widnes 17
Widnes put in a magnificent performance at Moss Farm and were unlucky not to come away with more than just a bonus point.
The Coaching staff were absolutely delighted with this effort on their return to the big stage and as they commented afterwards they were not left wanting in what was a really tough physical game of rugby.
“Northwich have been around the block a few times in recent seasons and have big promotion ambitions this year. But, the lads showed that despite the fact that we are the ‘new boys’, I thought our level of effort and commitment was magnificent” said a spokesman afterwards.
Indeed, the result could have been different if two Kevin Leadbetter penalties had gone over instead of hitting the uprights and bouncing back out.
The visitors were off to a decent start and following good work from Chadwick and Hewlett who combined with Harrison and Liku, Kevin Leadbetter was on hand to slot over an early penalty to give the visitors the lead.
After ten minutes, the big Northwich pack got themselves moving and some laxed defensive work allowed the home to get their noses in front with a try from King.
Not to be outdone though, Widnes replied after 23 minutes, when, after absorbing some more pressure, they replied as Michael Lamb set up the opportunity for centre Dave Welsh to score from 30 metres out. Kevin Leadbetter added the conversion to make it 10 – 5.
Widnes then had another opportunity, but in fact, the try came at the opposite end with a converted try from Naylor for Northwich almost against the run of play, and which left the visitors ruing what might have been as the half time whistle sounded.
Widnes struggled to get possession in the early part of the second half, and Northwich capitalised with another converted try from Gallimore to make it 19 – 10 after 50 minutes.
The visitors then rallied and the back line pairing of Lamb and Schofield got them moving again offering Dave Welsh the chance to put full back Andrew Riley away to score with a lovely inside pass. With the extras going over from Leadbetter, it was game on again at 19 – 17.
Widnes were confident now and attacked through Riley, Smith and Leadbetter - and the latter was unlucky to see two penalty attempts bounce back from the woodwork.
After that, it was left to Northwich to wrap up the scoring on 77 minutes with a penalty from Hallam to end the game at 22 – 17.
From a Northwich point of view it was job done, but for the visitors, they can take great heart from the performance and the fact that they picked up a bonus point from a place where few teams will come away with anything this season.
“Full credit must go to the players for their efforts. The young lads really grew up today and showed that they are more than capable of competing at this level. They gained some more valuable experience to add to the learning curve of their rugby education as they come to terms with a much higher standard of rugby” said the Head Coach afterwards.