What a rollercoaster ride of a game to conclude the season!
A wide open game began with both defences on top for the first 20 minutes. Widnes were unlucky not to take the lead on a number of occasions early on as strong Swinton defence kept them out. Swinton opened the scoring against the run of play, with a try in the 13th minute; the successful conversion giving the hosts a 6-0 lead.
Both teams continued with strong defensive sets but Swinton soon went over again, increasing their lead to 10-0 with the conversion missed.
Widnes soon rallied though, with some excellent handling putting Harriet King over in the corner to bring the score to 10-4, and a brilliant touch-line conversion from Anaia Nulty made it 10-6.
With the half-time whistle imminent, Swinton managed to break through the Widnes defence resulting in a try under the sticks, and with the successful conversion the half-time score was 16-6.
It was hard to believe that after all the excellent first half work the Vikings were 10 points behind.
It was so important that Widnes got off to a good start in the second half and within 4 minutes they came close, only to be called back for a knock-on over the try line. 2 minutes later though, Hannah Whitehead managed to get over the line after a powerful run through the Swinton defence; one of many strong runs from Hannah that certainly deserved a special mention.
With the scores 16-10, Widnes looked to be back in the game – but the joy was short lived as 2 tries in 4 minutes saw Swinton stretch their lead to 26-10.
With the rain falling Widnes continued to force the play and within 5 minutes Jen Myler went over, with Meg Jackson adding the conversion to close the gap to 26-16. With their tails up, Widnes could sense a comeback and it wasn’t long before Jazz Mason smashed her way over in the corner; unfortunately the conversation fell short.
Widnes came within inches of drawing level when yet another powerful run from Whitehead, but heavy defence resulted in a knock-on.
With the clock ticking down and Widnes pushing to secure what would have been deserved point(s), Swinton broke through the defence, but an outstanding last-ditch tackle from Chloe Hunt inches from line prevented an 80-metre try. However, from the next play Swinton went over in the corner, the conversion making it 32-20.
Widnes had the last say in the scoring though. Considering the girls had been playing 93 minutes of rugby on a very heavy surface, they put together some excellent play for Harriet King to cross for her second try.
It finished 32-24 in Swinton’s favour, but the girls worked unbelievably hard throughout the game, and had more chances been taken the Vikings could well have come away with the points.
Special mentions go to: Hannah Whitehead for her powerful, non-stop running; Hannah Quirk for her hard work both with and without the ball; Harriet King for her brace of tries; and the outstanding Talitha Hannon who played out of her skin from there first minute and is the Vikings’ Player of the Match.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to report on the Widnes Vikings Women this season. To see the progression these girls have made as a team has been a credit to every single one of them, that’s pulled on the Widnes shirt. They haven’t won every game, nor have they topped the league table, but every time they’ve taken to the field it’s been done with great pride and commitment, and more than anything else, they’ve played with smiles on their faces and a great team spirit.
A big thank you to the departing coaching team, and good luck to the incoming coaching team! But most of all, congratulations to Widnes Vikings Women for an excellent, entertaining season, and good luck for the next one.
Report by Tony Davidson