Goal-kicking proved to be the difference as Widnes Vikings Reserves went down 20-16 at Brantingham Park against Hull FC Reserves.
The Vikings started the game the stronger despite the torrid weather conditions, and posted the first points of the afternoon as Owen Buckley crossed for his third try in as many games. Strong defence from the away side forced the error from FC in their own 20, and Widnes made it count with a sweeping move giving Buckley a walk-in. Calland’s touchline conversion was perfect in direction, but Storm Dennis had other ideas and stopped the ball short of the sticks.
Following the try, the Vikings had a handful of opportunities to extend their lead but execution of plays was just off to keep the score to just 4-0.
On the back of this, the home side started to work themselves into the match, and responded as Charlie Graham went over under the sticks. Jude Ferreira was able to make the break down FC’s right edge, and fed Graham for a simple score. McNamara gave the hosts the lead with the conversion.
The rest of the first half was a game of attrition, with both sides going set-for-set trying to post more points before the break, but to no avail. The only remaining flash point of the first half was the sin-binning of Josh Wilde for a late hit on McNamara, which would run into the second period.
Half-Time: Hull FC Reserves 6-4 Widnes Vikings Reserves
With Wilde remaining in the sin-bin for the first six minutes of the half, the home side hunted for points to take advantage of their extra man, and got it as James Driver crossed. The winger finished the move acrobatically in the left corner after good work on his inside to create the opening. McNamara was off with his touchline conversion.
The Vikings, back to a full contingent with the return of Wilde, refused to throw the towel in, and levelled the scores as Dec Baker scored an opportune try under the sticks. Baker found himself at dummy half on the last, faked the pass to fool two defenders and muscled his way over from close range. Brad Calland converted to make the score 10-10.
FC regained the ascendency, however, and went back in front through the boot of McNamara after a dangerous tackle from three Widnes defenders under their own sticks. With 15 minutes to go, the home side led by two.
That lead would become eight five minutes later as Charlie Graham, like Driver earlier in the second half, finished acrobatically in the corner following a nice offload from Jude Ferreira in the build up. With McNamara’s touchline conversion, Hull FC had stretched their lead to 8.
This did not deter Widnes’ efforts however, and reduced the arrears as full-back Dan Hill got on the end of a superb Lewis Hulme break down the middle to score to the left of the sticks. Calland quickly converted to make it a 2-point game with just under five minutes to go.
From the kick-off, Jordan Case broke superbly to put Widnes into position and threaten a late comeback victory, but the FC defence was up to the task and kept their defensive line solid close to their own try-line.
With the Widnes attack handled, McNamara posted another two points from a penalty under the sticks on the hooter to hand the home side a tough win in horrible weather.
Full-Time: Hull FC Reserves 20-16 Widnes Vikings Reserves
Hull FC Reserves: Marcus Walker, James Driver, Jude Ferreira, Ryan Johnson, Charlie Graham, Ben McNamara, Jacob Hookem, Ryan Dearing, Elliot Windley, Harry Bardle, Will Wallis, Jack Bartlett, Connor Wynne. Subs: George Cooke, Callum Rutland, Leon Stewart, Kai Tyson.
Widnes Vikings Reserves: Dan Hill, Owen Buckley, Billy Glover, Connor Williams, Ollie Brookes, Sean Findlow, Jacob Dugdale, Jordan Case, Callum Wood, Calum O’Neill, Josh Wilde, Jordan Brown, Brad Calland. Subs: Lewis Hulme, James Rutledge, Dec Baker, Will Donnelly.