Widnes Vikings were made to work hard for the two points on Sunday afternoon, as they battled past Whitehaven RLFC to return to winning ways.
After a closely fought first-half, the home side dominated the second 40 before two late scores in the final three minutes helped blow out the score line.
Tim Sheens made six changes to the side who were beaten by Dewsbury Rams last week, as Deon Cross, Matty Smith, Shane Grady, Joe Edge and Owen Farnworth returned to action.
Callum Wood also made the step-up to First Team from the club’s Reserve side, making his Vikings debut.
On 10 minutes the away side took the lead, as Callum Phillips’ kick was taken by Sam Dowsett, who found Andrew Bulman in support and the winger raced over in acres of space.
It took 14 minutes for a Vikings response, as the visitors continued to threaten in attack but their discipline in defence let them down. Off the back of three penalties in a row, Smith hit Jay Chapelhow with a flat pass at the line and the front rower managed to reach for the line to score.
Eight minutes from the break, Whitehaven took the chance to level the scores with a penalty goal from in front, with Karl Dixon duly obliging.
Two minutes later, the same player gave the away side the lead again as a kick from Jesse Joe Parker evaded Jay Chapelhow, with Haven regathering possession before Dixon dummied past the covering defence.
Widnes ensured they headed into the sheds with the lead though, as Joe Lyons managed to force his way through the defensive line and offload to the supporting Sam Wilde.
Jack Owens’ conversion meant that the home side held a two-point advantage at the break.
Half-time: Widnes Vikings 12-10 Whitehaven RLFC
Widnes started the second half positively and had three sets in a row on their opponents’ line, but couldn’t find a way through their resolute defence.
When Whitehaven looked to have weathered the storm, a brilliant kick return from Cross advanced the Vikings into the away side’s half. From the next play, Farnworth broke the line and drew the fullback, before offloading to Lyons who raced over in support.
Lyons had a second seven minutes later, as Whitehaven dropped a last tackle kick from Smith and were subsequently caught offside. From the resulting set, Wilde popped a pass back inside for the fullback to race onto and open up a 14-point lead.
With the game looking beyond the visitors, back-to-back penalties gave them an opportunity to hit back, and they did exactly that as Dixon brushed off an attempted tackle to cross the whitewash for his second of the game.
Any chance of a comeback was dashed from the restart though, as Edge’s kick bounced out of play and forced Haven into a goal-line drop-out. That set then led to Cross marking his return to action with a try, benefitting from Jake Spedding’s flick pass to score his fifth try in as many games.
With Whitehaven looking to claw their way back into the contest the Vikings carved them open, as Owens dummied through a hole in the defence before finding Wilde in support, with Edge showing great footwork to finish the move.
In the final minute of the game, an interception from Pat Moran set Kenny Baker racing towards the try line and he showed great composure to come up with a pass out the back for Owens to score.
That proved to be the final action of the afternoon, as Widnes battled past a stubborn Whitehaven outfit to get back to winning ways.
Full-time: Widnes Vikings 40-16 Whitehaven RLFC
Widnes Vikings: Joe Lyons, Jack Johnson, Joe Edge, Jake Spedding, Deon Cross, Matty Smith, Jack Owens, Ted Chapelhow, Logan Tomkins, Pat Moran, Sam Wilde, Shane Grady, Kenny Baker.
Interchanges: MacGraff Leuluai, Owen Farnworth, Jay Chapelhow, Callum Wood.
Tries: J. Chapelhow (24), Wilde (39), Lyons (52, 59), Cross (70), Edge (77), Owens (80) Goals: Owens 6/7
Whitehaven RLFC: Sam Forrester, David Thompson, Jesse Joe Nandye, Jason Mossop, Andrew Bulman, Karl Dixon, Callum Phillips, Marc Shackley, Sam Dowsett, Jamie Thackarey, Brett Phillips, Ellis Gillam, Thomas Wilkinson.
Interchanges: Connor Holliday, Ethan Kelly, Jake Bradley, Thomas Walker.
Tries: Bulman (10), Dixon (34, 68) Goals: Dixon 1/3, Holliday 1/1