Widnes Vikings, Select Security Stadium Halton, Lower House Lane, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 7DZ
Sunday 3rd July 2016, 15:00
Super League - Round: 20
Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Mitch Garbutt,
Corey Thompson, Joe Mellor, Patrick Ah Van, Rhys Hanbury,
Liam Sutcliffe 3,
Rhys Hanbury 3,
Attendance: 16,130 Official: B Thaler Venue: Headingley Carnegie Stadium
Full Time Report
A late drop goal from Joe Mellor saw Widnes Vikings claim a 23-22 comeback victory over Leeds Rhinos - their first at Headingley since 2002.
With the scores tied at 22-22 after 78 minutes, the game looked to be heading for a draw but Widnes had other ideas as Mellor's 35-metre kick sealed the points.
The hosts were looking to make it three wins on the trot and they got off to flying start as Kallum Watkins dived over from close range. Liam Sutcliffe added the extras to give Leeds a 6-0 lead after seven minutes but Corey Thompson's try moments later trimmed the score at 6-4.
The Rhinos extended their advantage through fit-again winger Ryan Hall's first try since February and Joel Moon's effort, Sutcliffe converting one of two conversions to make it 16-4. Mellor's converted score meant the Vikings trailed by six at the break.
Leeds were on the attack in the second-half and got their reward as Jamie Jones-Buchanan's short pass set up Mitch Garbutt before he powered through to cross. Sutcliffe converted his third goal of the contest and the hosts were in control at 22-10 with 28 minutes to go.
Widnes responded with 13 unanswered points, however, as converted tries from Patrick Ah Van and Rhys Hansbury levelled the tie at 22-22.
And the Vikings stunned the Leeds faithful as Mellor had the final say with his drop goal to snatch victory at the death and all-but seal their spot in the top eight, consigning the defending First Utility Super League champions to the Super 8s Qualifiers.
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott admitted that his side's pride has been dented, saying: “It’s a dent to the pride, absolutely.
“That’s not what we’re about and it’s not where we want to be.
“It’s where we’re at because of certain things that have happened this year that have been out of our control, but at the same time there are things we need to learn. The Kirkstall (training ground flooding) issue and the injuries have had a huge part to play but we should have learned along the way.
“If you take the context out of the game, that was a good performance.
“But it’s a big moment. The danger is the overreaction to this for everybody involved. We’re going to get to a stage where we’re playing in the Qualifiers and we need to be as good as we can be.”
Widnes, on the other hand, can now look forward to the First Utility Super League play-offs and Vikings head coach Denis Betts believes his side responded to their agonising Ladbrokes Challenge Cup qaurter-final defeat against Warrington Wolves in the best way possible.
“It’s an understatement to say I’m proud of this team," he said.
“There’s a resilience building in this team; we could so easily have folded on the back of the massive disappointment in the Challenge Cup. We had a real big chance to push ourselves into the semi-finals.
“Moving on to this week knowing that Leeds are very desperate. They had to win every single game, are at home and have some players back. For us to win this game is very impressive.
“It’s a fantastic achievement to all but secure our place in the top eight.”