After a turbulent week off the field, Widnes Vikings celebrated saving the club with an emphatic 44-22 victory over Featherstone Rovers, in front of 5,782 fans on Sunday.
It was the perfect end to a week of high emotions, as the Vikings started to chip away at their points deduction following administration, ending the day on minus six.
Following last week’s postponement, Kieron Purtill made four changes as Hep Cahill, Tom Gilmore, Owen Buckley and Owen Farnworth came into the 17.
Widnes opened the scoring after just two minutes, as Hansen forced Ase Boas to knock on from the kick-off, and from the resulting set Liam Hood darted over from dummy half. Jack Owens added the extras to make it 6-0.
The Vikings were under pressure immediately after, as Buckley spilled the kick-off and conceded a goal-line drop out, but a Rovers knock on saw the hosts keep their line in tact.
A great carry from Buckley then drew the first penalty of the game, and Widnes took full advantage as Anthony Gelling was too strong from close range. Owens was on target from the touchline to double the lead.
Widnes kept the pressure on the Featherstone line after Brad Walker’s kick in behind forced a goal-line drop out, and from the next set Ryan Ince chased down Owens’ grubber to add another four points on 12 minutes.
Try number four followed soon after, as Danny Craven’s towering bomb was plucked out of the air by Buckley, who found Owens in support to dive over next to the sticks. He converted his own try to make it 22-0.
The wet conditions saw both sides come up with a number of errors, before the Vikings extended their lead two minutes from half-time. Craven forced yet another goal-line drop out, and a delayed pass from Gilmore at the line saw Walker cross for his second try in as many games.
Owens added a simple conversion to take Widnes into the sheds 28-0 up.
The Vikings had a golden opportunity to add to their lead five minutes into the second half, after absorbing some early pressure on their line. A slick pass out the back put Owens through a hole in the defence and he tried to find Buckley in support, who knocked on with only the try line in front of him.
Featherstone finally broke their deadlock on 48 minutes, as Daniel Smith barged over from close range following three penalties in quick succession. Calum Turner cut the deficit to 28-6 with his conversion.
It took just five minutes for Widnes to reply, thanks to the combination of Craven and Sam Wilde with the latter racing from a short ball at the line. Owens was once again on target with the boot, making it 34-6.
Craven was having a brilliant afternoon with the boot, and from his 40/20 Owens was able to race over for his second of the game moments later, converting to bring up 40 points.
Rovers responded after the hour mark, as they shifted the ball out to the right edge where Turner was able to race towards the try line, sending the supporting Harry Newman in at the corner. Turner converted, bringing the scores to 40-12.
Featherstone went back-to-back when Cameron King managed to muscle his way over from close range despite the attention of a number of defenders, with Turner adding another conversion.
A coming together then led to a Vikings penalty in a dangerous position, and an outrageous offload from Gelling saw Ince dive in at the corner for his second try of the game.
With seven minutes left on the clock, Featherstone scored their fourth try of the game following back-to-back goal-line drop-outs, as Newman stepped his way over to collect a brace.
The Vikings managed to see out the remainder of the game to pick up the two points, as they rounded off an emotional week with a brilliant win.