Widnes Vikings suffered a disappointing defeat at home to York City Knights on Sunday, as they were edged 16-12 at the Halton Stadium.
The hosts were restricted to just two points in the second half, as they failed to turn prolonged periods of pressure into points, with the York defence holding firm.
Kieron Purtill made four changes to the side that took on Leigh Centurions at the Summer Bash, as top try scorer Ryan Ince returned from injury. Dan Norman, Sam Freeman and Joe Lyons also came in, with Jay Chapelhow, Tom Gilmore, MacGraff Leuluai and Jayden Hatton made way.
The Vikings flew out of the blocks, placing the Knights under pressure with their first attacking set before a bomb from Danny Craven forced a goal-line drop-out.
Off the back of that repeat set, York spilled the ball over their own try line, giving Lloyd Roby the simple task of scooping up possession to score next to the sticks. Freeman added the conversion, making it 6-0 after five minutes.
The Knights almost produced an immediate response, only for Perry Whiteley to knock on with the try-line begging.
York went close again, as Tim Spears looked certain to score when he supported a break, only for brilliant fullback play by Freeman to deny him. Two tackles later, Junior Vaivai was held up over the try line, before Jack Teanby was caught offside on the last tackle.
The Vikings thought they were off the hook, however they were under pressure again when Harrison Hansen knocked on inside his own half. York took full advantage this time, as Liam Harris sent Spears through a hole in the defence with a delayed pass, before backing up the break to score himself.
On the half hour mark, Lyons was forced in-goal to give the visitors a repeat set, and they almost hit the front through Kris Brining, however the hooker was held up over the line on the last tackle.
Widnes then picked up another fortunate try, as Will Oakes looked to offload from a kick return, with his pass fumbled by Vaivai and into the path of Lyons, who had only 20 metres between him and a try.
Four minutes from the break, Vaivai made amends as he proved too strong from close range, sending the sides into half-time level.
Widnes thought they had regained the lead on 44 minutes when Owen Buckley crossed on the left edge, only for the pass from Keanan Brand to be called forward and deny the winger a four-pointer.
The Vikings were in front seven minutes later though, as a high tackle advanced the hosts into their opponents’ half, where a lifting tackle on Owen Farnworth gave Freeman a simple shot at goal, making it 12-10.
The hosts were then camped on their York line for the next 10 minutes, as Sam Wilde was held up over the line twice along with Craven, however Widnes couldn’t capitalise on three repeat sets with the defence holding strong.
After surviving that onslaught, the Knights produced another break from Teanby, with the supporting Harris dragged down by the retreating Lyons. On the next play Wilde was caught offside, before Vaivai’s offload sent Oakes over on the left wing to the delight of the travelling supporters. Conor Robinson landed the conversion from the touchline, give York a four-point advantage.
With 10 minutes of the contest left, another big carry from Cahill saw the Vikings skipper go agonisingly close to scoring, as he was held up just short of the line.
Two minutes later, a clever goal-line drop-out from Craven saw him chase down his own kick and break to halfway, only for Jordan Johnstone’s last tackle kick to come to nothing.
A scramble on the Knights’ try line almost handed Keanan Brand a late score, although he had knocked on attempting to reach for the whitewash, with York managing to see out the remaining minutes and pick up two points.