Widnes Vikings got their 2019 Betfred Championship campaign off to the perfect start, as Ryan Ince scored a hat-trick in a 40-16 victory over Halifax on Sunday.
Anthony Gelling also marked his debut with a brace of tries, as Jack Owens enjoyed his return to the Vikings with a try and six goals. There were also debuts for Adam Tangata and Liam Hood, as Chris Dean led the team out as captain in his 200th career appearance.
The Vikings opened the scoring after just three minutes, as Danny Craven’s kick held up in the in-goal and Owens beat Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e to the ball to touch down on his return. The Vikings man converted his own effort to open up a 6-0 lead.
Five minutes later Craven created the Vikings’ second try of the afternoon, as his last tackle kick was plucked out of the air by Gelling, who showed his strength to reach for the try line and plant the ball down. Owens was on target with the conversion to double the home side’s advantage.
On 12 minutes the hosts were in again, as Joe Lyons fired a cut-out ball to Gelling, who drew the defenders and found Ince with a flick pass, as the winger dove over in the corner. Owens struck the post with the attempt at goal, as the Vikings led 16-0.
It took 18 minutes for the visitors to open their account, as they took advantage of a penalty deep inside the Vikings half, with Laulu-Togagae’s clever pass sending Will Sharp in for a try out wide. Steve Tyrer was off-target with the conversion attempt, as Widnes were pegged back to 16-4.
With 12 minutes of the half remaining, and with the visitors gaining momentum, Tyrer beat Gelling to Ben White’s kick to score on the left edge, converting his own effort to take Halifax within six points.
The Vikings defence stood strong for the remainder of the half, and with two minutes left on the clock Kieron Purtill ignored his player’s calls for a shot at goal and instructed them to run the ball. From the resulting set, and with the last play of the half, Craven stepped past the sliding defence to bring up 300 career points and 50 career tries.
Owens was on target from the tee, making it 22-10 to the home side at the break.
It took the Vikings seven minutes of the second half to extend their lead, as Craven forced a goal-line drop-out with his kick from dummy half. That led to great hands ending in Ince racing in for his second try of the afternoon, and Owens landing the touchline conversion.
A late shot by Liam Cooper on Craven then gave Widnes a set on the Halifax 10 metre line, and they took advantage of that great field position with Gelling striding through the defence to collect his brace. Another Owens conversion from out wide made it 34-10.
With 55 minutes played, a high tackle on Owen Farnworth led to Brandon Moore being sent to the sin bin, however the home side couldn’t make the extra man pay as Dean and Craven were held up over the line.
Fax then had a second man sin binned with 11 minutes remaining, as Kevin Larroyer was yellow carded, and this time the Vikings took full advantage as Ince came up with another acrobatic finish to complete his hat-trick. Owens again landed a touchline conversion to leave the scores at 40-10.
Despite being a man down, Halifax grabbed a consolation effort after Laulu-Togagae raced through a gap in the middle, with Ben Kavanagh backing up the break and scoring. Tyrer’s simple conversion made it 40-16.
The away side almost had another, as Sharp touched down for what he thought was his second try of the game, only for a forward pass to deny him. Widnes saw out the rest of the game to pick up an emphatic round one victory