If this is the kind of game the sport’s new era will make the norm then Super League XX could be something special.
Widnes defied the 24th minute sending off of Patrick Ah Van, the loss of playmaker Kevin Brown and a succession of confusing calls from James Child to overturn a 16-0 deficit and snatch a deserved 22-22 draw with Wigan Warriors.
Child’s handling of the game proves some things remain from the previous era yet it will be a great shame if his failings overshadow a pulsating contest.
Even before Ah Van’s dismissal, the warning signs had been there for Widnes.
Wigan made ground without too much trouble, John Bateman caused no end of problems and 20-year-old George Williams looked at home in the number six shirt.
Joel Tomkins squeezed through Stefan Marsh to give the Warriors the lead and Anthony Gelling twice exposed poor defensive shape on the left edge.
As it happened, Child’s decision to show Ah Van a straight red for felling Josh Charnley, whose evening ended prematurely, only served to fire up the Chemics and made the game more of a contest.
Joe Mellor’s score towards the end of the half sent Widnes into the break with a belief that had not been evident in the opening 25 minutes.
When Rhys Hanbury touched down seven minutes into the second-half to bring them within four points, the improbable looked possible.
Wigan didn’t look quite so assured in possession and but for some favourable calls from Child could well have found themselves behind.
However, the Warriors halted the hosts’ momentum when Joe Burgess crossed in the corner as the extra man told.
Widnes had cause to feel hard done to yet it was Wigan whose sense of injustice grew moving into the final stages.
Child penalised them for forcing Declan Hulme into touch and seconds later Cameron Phelps brought the Chemics back to within six points.
Widnes had Wigan on the ropes and in the closing moments Chris Dean ploughed over next to the posts and Marsh’s kick levelled up the game.
Matty Smith was fortunate to escape a red card for booting Hanbury in the aftermath as Child, who initially allowed the kick to go unpunished, sent him to the sin-bin following Robert Hicks’ intervention.