Wakefield Trinity Wildcats spoilt the party at the Stobart Stadium with a 32-14 win over Widnes Vikings.
The Vikings were making their first Super League appearance in seven years since they were relegated in 2005.
Peter Fox’s two tries in the final ten minutes secured the win for Wakefield, in what was predicted as an early four-pointer to avoid the ‘wooden spoon.’
The Vikings couldn’t convert their early pressure into points, as Wakefield conceded only one try in the opening 20 minutes despite having little ball possession.
Ben Cockayne nearly spoilt the party early for the Vikings in the opening minute of the match as he appeared to have crossed in the corner.
However Video Referee Ian Smith ruled that Cockayne’s left foot had been out of bounds, so Widnes had a chance to strike first.
They did, and it was Widnes’ Championship young stalwart who stepped up to the plate.
Widnes pressured the Wildcats’ line throughout the first quarter, but couldn’t convert their chances in to points.
Wakefield made them pay for their unconverted chances.
With just less than ten minutes remaining in the first half, Ian Smith was called upon again. This time he decided that Patrick Ah Van had knocked the ball back in challenging for the high ball against Peter Fox, only then for him to rule than Frank Winterstein had knocked on over the try line in an attempt to dive on the loose ball.
However in the final moments Ah Van scored the half’s final try.
Widnes’ passing movement found the Wakefield defence short on the right side, and Ah Van found the corner to the delight of Vikings’ supporters.
With Wakefield only getting three good chances in the first half, and technically crossing the try line twice, it would have been a worry for Widnes coach Denis Betts going into the second half.
Indeed when Wakefield got into the Vikings 20 metre area, it was Andy Raleigh who took the first opportunity with a try next to the posts. John converted to level the scores.
Widnes had the perfect opportunity to get back into the lead almost immediately. Patrick Ah Van outran Rhys Hanbury’s kick, but Willie Isa was in support to slide over the line. However Ah Van clearly pulled on the shirt of a Wakefield defender, who had done a quick U-turn attempting to clear the ball himself. Ian Smith confirmed the decision to disallow the try.
It seemed Ah Van had pressed his side’s self destruct button, as the Vikings conceded three back to back penalties to gift Wakefield field possession.
But Wakefield didn’t take advantage, and Widnes soon brought the game back within their favour.
Hep Cahill charged down a Wakefield kick intended for down field, before racing 60 metres to score in the right corner. Ah Van missed the conversion yet again, his second from three attempts.
Wakefield replied quickly through Richie Mathers, making up for his earlier mistake.
Wakefield executed the dummy runner perfectly on Widnes’ line which allowed Mathers to walk through unchallenged.
John kicked the conversion to send Wakefield into the lead for the first time in the game.
The game breaker came with 15 minutes left to play. Tim Smith from first receiver exposed Widnes’ defence for the swinging gate that it was giving Wakefield an eight point advantage.
Wakefield could sense they had the upper hand and with less than nine minutes remaining sealed the game with a try from Peter Fox in the corner.
Fox scored his second with five minutes to go after some excellent passing and offloads gave the Wildcats a 32-14 lead.
Widnes scores: Tries: Craven, Ah Van, Cahill Goals: Ah Van
Wakefield scores: Tries: Lauitiiti, Raleigh, Mathers, Smith, Fox (2) Goals: John (4)
Widnes: Craven; Dean, Marsh, Isa, Ah Van; Clarke, Hanbury; Cross, Moore, Winterstein; Kavanagh, Allen, Cahill.
Subs: White, Pickersgill, Haggerty, Mullally.
Wakefield: Mathers; Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne; John, Smith; Amor, Aiton, Southern; Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook.
Subs: Wood, Wilkes, Raleigh, Johnson.
Referee: Ben Thaler