Widnes 44-28 Toulouse

Four tries in the final eleven minutes helped Widnes to victory over Toulouse in an entertaining Northern Rail Cup clash that edges the Vikings closer to qualification.

The Vikings made the stronger start to the game and looked set to strike before Olympique halfback Josh Lewis intercepted a telegraphed ball from Thomas Coyle and raced 90 metres to the opposite tryline despite a valiant chase by Paddy Flynn.

Teli Pelo also made a thunderous charge into the Widnes half only for fullback Danny Craven to effect a brave tackle.

Lewis also goaled to hand the early initiative to the visitors but Widnes responded quickly to take a 12-6 lead.

First skipper Dave Allen cut back inside and ploughed through a host of defenders to the line, then in the 14th minute, Anthony Thackeray spotted that the French team were short of numbers and scampered down the right before Flynn handed the ball back for a try goaled by Steve Tyrer.

Tyrer missed a glorious opportunity to extend the Widnes advantage and Toulouse looked set to make them pay when Darren Nicholls and Damien Couturier created space and Kevin Larroyer motored through only to be stopped near the line.

Both teams missed further chances with Toulouse edging the game at this stage thanks to the control of Lewis and there was no surprise when the visitors equalised after 29 minutes. It came off the back of a Couturier break and a pass that was played at by Flynn. From the resulting scrum, Lewis cleverly linked with Sebastien Planas and the centre got through the defence.

Toulouse then caught Widnes out when a flowing move  that involved Lewis, Sylvain Houles and Planas sent Gregory White free and the winger showed a good turn of pace to step inside the fullback and finish from forty metres. Lewis missed the conversion and Toulouse went in at half-time with a 16-12 lead.

Early in the second half, Toulouse played the more controlled rugby and when Lewis struck a 40-20 it gave the opportunity for Nicholls to show dazzling footwork and claim a fourth French try that Lewis goaled for a 22-12 advantage.

On their next set Olypique kicked out on the full from Lewis and Thackeray put Tangi Ropati over on the right. Tyrer converted and surprisingly hit the posts with an easier conversion attempt in the 54th minute after Thackeray dummied the defence and crashed through for his second try.

Things were in the balance and Toulouse thought they had claimed the game-breaking try when substitute Eric Anselme made a startling break down the Olympique left and Bruno Ormeno followed up for his third try of the season. Lewis goaled and Toulouse led again – 28-22.

That sparked the Vikings to life and Tyrer finished strongly after a short spell of pressure on the Toulouse line.

Soon after Allen broke through and passed for Netherton to go under the posts and as Toulouse heads dropped, further tries from Chris Gerrard and Ben Kavanagh secured a Vikings win and snatched a bonus point away from the visitors.

WIDNES: 44

Tries: Allen 8, Thackeray 14, 54, Ropati 51, Tyrer 67, Netherton 72, Kavanagh 78.
Goals: Tyrer 6/8.

TOULOUSE: 28

Tries: Lewis 4, Planas 29, White 32, Nicholls 47, Ormeno 63.
Goals: Lewis 4/5.

Attendance: 2,376.

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