Widnes 10-18 Hunslet

The Co-operative Championship produced it’s first surprise result as promoted Hunslet Hawks came away from the Stobart Stadium with an 18-10 victory.

The Vikings had expected to continue their unbeaten run after downing Sheffield 44-16 last week but found a determined Hunslet that defended superbly and prevented at least six tries being scored.

At the start of the game Widnes had over five minutes of constant pressure that came to nothing and on their first major attack it was the promoted Hawks that scored when strong play down the right saw Tommy Haughey reach the line and offload for David March to crash over. Danny Ratcliffe missed the conversion but the visitors led 4-0.

Hunslet soaked up further pressure as Thomas Coyle kicked for the in-goal area but Anthony Thackeray knocked on at the line following the drop out. Hunslet responded with some field position of their own and this was again converted into points when Luke Haigh caught a Vikings defender offside and stand-off Danny Ratcliffe goaled to make it 6-0 after 18 minutes.

Danny Grimshaw and Hunslet made a superb chance a couple of minutes later when the stand-off broke, Stuart Kain supported only for Haughey and Waine Pryce to lose their way and the ball went loose.

The Hawks continued to threaten and Kain was desperately unlucky when a March kick was just forced dead.

After 26 minutes Hunslet crafted further good ball possession and converted it when Neil Lowe got a pass away and Grimshaw changed direction to race over while Vikings players confronted the referee claiming he had obstructed them. The try stood and Ratcliffe’s boot made it 12-0.

At the other end Chaz I’Anson had the best opportunity for Widnes but enthusiastic defence not only held him up, but pushed him over the goal-line.

Hawks fullback Kain was heroic a minute later as he won a miss-match to haul down Daniel Heckinberg after the former Harlequins forward looked set to score. James Ford saw a try disallowed for Widnes and Hunslet suffered a similar fate when Wayne Pryce bounced the ball down in the corner.

In the closing stages of the half Hunslet stood firm as Widnes perppered their line with John Oakes denying Thackeray and then combining with Richie Barnett to force Steve Tyrer over the touchline. It remained 12-0 at the interval.

Widnes started the second half as they finished the first as more great defence held Tyrer out. Paddy Flynn then broke the visitors line only for Ratcliffe to chase back. More stern tackling held Richard Varkulis over the line, stopped Kurt Haggerty and kept Thackeray out as wave after wave of attack came.

Eventually it told on the visitors and I’Anson fired for Varkulis to dive over. Tyrer goaled and when Ben Kavanagh split the defence it set the position for the Vikings to force three sets of possession before Thakeray eventually found a way through. 
That made it 12-10 after 51 minutes and the Hawks rearguard worked wonders to again deny Varkulis and I’Anson.

On the hour two penalties in a row moved Hunslet downfield and Barnett went close only to lose the ball.

With Hunslet tails up, Widnes battled to keep their lines intact and when Ratcliffe was taken out in pursuit of his own kick, Steve Pickersgill was sinbinned. Now it was the Vikings turn to show character and they repelled the visitors before launching a series of attacks that were met by indefatigable tackling.

Widnes were also guilty of giving away penalties in possession and after clearing their lines, Ratcliffe was handed a penalty 35 metres out after Haigh ran from dummy-half. This time the half-back pulled his attempt wide and as Widnes became more urgent and less structured, they broke the defence only for Kirk Netherton to fire a pass behind Shane Grady and Ford. Pryce spotted his opportunity to collect from his boot straps and finish from forty metres. Ratcliffe’s third goal opened up an 18-10 advantage and it could have been worse had Pryce not pulled a muscle as he latched onto a further Vikings mistake and Ratcliffe nudged a drop goal attempt wide.

The Hawks had enough experience to see them through and celebrated a famous win at the final hooter.

WIDNES: Flynn, Gaskell, Ford, Tyrer, Gardner; Thackeray, Coyle; Kavanagh, Netherton, Pickersgill, Allen, Haggerty, Finnigan. Subs: Varkulis, I’Anson, Heckenberg, Grady.

Tries: Varkulis (47), Thackeray (51).
Goals: Tyrer 1/2.

HUNSLET: Kain, Pryce, Haughey, Oakes, Barnet; Grimshaw, Ratcliffe; Sullivan, Haigh, Yates, Kelly, Dooler, D March. Subs: Houston, Blakeway, Lowe, McLocklan.

Tries: March (7), Grimshaw (26), Pryce (75).
Goals: Ratcliffe 3/5.

Referee: W Turley.
Penalties: 12-12.
Half-time: 0-12.

Attendance: 3,023.

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