Widnes Vikings fell to a 22-4 defeat at the LD Nutrition Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as their three-game winning run came to an end at the hands of Featherstone Rovers.
Kieron Purtill made just one change to his 17 for the trip to the LD Nutrition Stadium, as the club’s top try scorer Ryan Ince returned in place of Lloyd Roby.
The Vikings first chance to attack came after five minutes, as Tom Holmes handed the visitors a seven-tackle set when his kick ran dead, and up the other end of the field Danny Craven judged his grubber perfectly to force a goal-line drop-out.
Dane Chisholm found touch to deny Widnes a repeat set though, and then off the back of a penalty his kick into the in-goal was pounced on by Alex Sutcliffe, who opened the scoring on seven minutes.
The visitors were dealt another blow moments later, as Jordan Johnstone was forced from the field clutching at his chest.
Jayden Hatton drew a penalty to advance the Vikings into their opponents 40 soon after, where Chisholm’s knock on gave them a scrum 10 metres from the try line. Joe Lyons’ tried to catch the Rovers defence out with a kick in behind, however it ran too long for the on-rushing Hatton.
Lyons thought he had got the Vikings off the mark when Josh Ganson’s grubber was knocked on in the in-goal by Ashton Golding, only for the referee to judge that Featherstone had grounded the ball before he could.
Chisholm was a constant threat for the hosts, and Hatton had to react quickly when he tried a kick in behind, as the Widnes winger was forced to bat the ball into touch while retreating. From the scrum that followed, Featherstone were awarded a penalty and Chisholm opted to add a simple two points, making it 8-0 after half an hour.
Widnes were on the back foot as the half drew to a close, with Chisholm kicking a 40/20 two minutes before the break, although the defence managed to hold out and headed for the sheds eight points down.
Inside the final 30 seconds, the visitors were dealt another cruel injury blow as Craven’s afternoon was brought to a premature end, with the halfback not emerging for the second half.
The Vikings had two early chances to attack the Rovers line, as a Sutcliffe knock on and a penalty against Chisholm for dissent started them inside their opponents’ half, only for both opportunities to come to nothing.
Featherstone made them pay on 46 minutes, as Brad Walker was penalised for a late shot on Tom Holmes, gifting the hosts another set of six 10 metres from the try line. They took full advantage, as Holmes looped a pass out to Conor Carey who strolled over for an unconverted score out wide.
Ted Chapelhow found his way over the try line, only to be held up by the defence, as the Vikings finally started to have some success with the ball in hand.
A break from Anthony Gelling then advanced Widnes into a dangerous position, only for Gelling to be held up over the line on the last tackle as he plucked Lyons’ kick out of the air.
On the hour mark they finally had their breakthrough, as Jack Owens broke through the middle to get his side within 10 metres of the try line. A penalty followed, and from that the Vikings put the ball through hands for Ryan Ince to dive over in the corner.
A Featherstone knock on inside their own 30 metre gave the away side another chance to attack, but after Lyons had forced a repeat set Jay Chapelhow was penalised in possession for playing the ball before regathering his feet.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Ince knocked on a kick inside his own 10 metre, and when Rovers elected to run the ball from a penalty moments later, Holmes managed to spin out of a tackle and score a try that put the game to bed.
Widnes didn’t give up there though, as they spent the majority of the time remaining camped on their opponents’ line as Josh Walters knocked on a short restart. However, four repeat sets came to nothing as the defence stood tall, before Hep Cahill’s knock on brought the attack to an end.
With the last play of the game, and with the hooter already sounded, Keanan Brand and Gelling attempted to keep the ball alive, with a wild offload being collected by Sutcliffe for him to put the icing on the cake and score his second try of the game.