Vikings 34 - 16 Crusaders

Vikings end pre-season with third victory


Widnes Vikings battled past a spirited North Wales Crusaders side, ending their pre-season campaign with a 34-16 victory at the DCBL Stadium.

Heavy fog threatened to halt the fixture before it had even started, before a final inspection led to the game going ahead.

Kenny Baker featured against his former club, scoring in this fixture for the second season in a row as he collected a brace against his former teammates, with Jack Johnson scoring a hat-trick.

It was the third victory of pre-season for Widnes, as they followed up wins over Rochdale Hornets and Castleford Tigers ahead of the start of the Betfred Championship campaign.

The Vikings opened the scoring after just four minutes, as Danny Craven dummied his way through the line and showed enough pace to round the fullback.

Four minutes later the home side doubled their lead, as Baker carried the ball down the short side and managed to reach out and find the try line, despite the best efforts of the Crusaders defence.

Craven orchestrated the next Widnes score, as he jumped in at dummy half and landed a 40/20 to give the hosts an attacking set in a dangerous area. The Vikings number six then drew in the defender, releasing the ball to Sam Wilde at the latest possible moment to send the second rower over.

On 21 minutes Crusaders broke their deadlock, as Jordan Gibson forced a goal-line drop-out and from the resulting set David Eccleston crossed in the corner after the ball had been put through hands.

The Welsh outfit then enjoyed a great spell, holding the Vikings out before cutting the deficit just five minutes before the break. Opting to put the ball through hands again, Crusaders went left and gave Rob Massam enough room to score on the left edge.

Tommy Johnson added the conversion, as Widnes held a 14-10 lead at the break.

Half-time: Widnes Vikings 14-10 North Wales Crusaders

Widnes replied within two minutes of the restart, as Lloyd Roby found a way through the Crusaders defence and sent the supporting Jack Johnson over for his second try in as many games.

The Vikings went close soon after as Baker managed to force the ball free in the tackle, however his offload evaded Deon Cross and found touch to bring the attack to an end.

On 54 minutes Widnes thought they had extended their lead, as Craven plucked Matty Smith’s kick out of the air to score under the crossbar, only for the referee to claim he had been in an offside position.

The penalty kick didn’t make it to touch, as Cross managed to keep the ball in play, and the hosts took full advantage with Johnson getting his second of the game thanks to Joe Lyons’ cut-out ball.

Cross and Massam were locked in an intriguing battle out wide, with the Vikings number five saving a certain try on 65 minutes by putting his opposite number into touch.

With 11 minutes remaining, winger Johnson completed his hat-trick as he forced his way over on the short side, showing great strength to collect his third try of the afternoon. Owens landed the conversion to open up an 18-point cushion.

A minute later the lead was extended by a further six points, as Baker haunted his former team once again when he collected Lyons’ grubber before beating the fullback and diving over for his second.

The final scoring play of the game went the way of Crusaders, a Gavin Rodden intercepted a pass from Jacob Dugdale to race the length of the field and score.

Widnes now have a free weekend, before heading to Oldham for their opening fixture of the 2020 season on Sunday 2th February.

Full-time: Widnes Vikings 34-16 North Wales Crusaders

Widnes Vikings: Jack Owens, Jack Johnson, Lloyd Roby, Jake Spedding, Deon Cross, Matty Smith, Danny Craven, Ted Chapelhow, Logan Tomkins, Jay Chapelhow, Sam Wilder, Kenny Baker, MacGraff Leuluai.

Interchanges: Joe Edge, Joe Lyons, Owen Farnworth, Pat Moran, Connor Dwyer, Jacob Dugdale.

Tries: Craven (4), Baker (8, 72), Wilde (11), Johnson (42, 58, 69) Goals: Owens 3/6, Smith 0/1

North Wales Crusaders: Thomas Johnson, David Eccleston, Jordan Penny, Earl Hurst, Rob Massam, Jordan Gibson, Elliot Jenkins, Bradley Brennan, Ste Roper, Warren Thompson, Gavin Rodden, Kieran Sherratt, Chris Barratt.

Interchanges: Brad Billsborough, Matthew Reid, James Tilley, Ryan Millington, Jordan Olmez, Jack Holmes, Jack Cottington.

Tries: Eccleston (21), Massam (35), Rodden (80) Goals: Johnson 2/3



North Wales Crusaders