Widnes’ seven year stay in Super League is hanging by a thread after they suffered their 18th straight league defeat at the weekend.
The Vikings took an early lead at Salford but were comfortably beaten 32-6 to send them to a second successive loss in The Qualifiers.
No team has ever even made it as far as the Million Pound Game after losing their first two games in this phase of the season, and with trips to Toulouse, Toronto and Hull KR to come, Widnes are odds on with the sports betting providers to lose their top flight status.
It’s a stark contrast to Widnes’ two previous experiences of The Qualifiers, where both times they won five out of seven games to ensure survival, including a dramatic win away at Catalans last September.
But after two seasons of struggles in Super League, it now seems time is up.
Even the departure of Denis Betts, after almost eight years in charge, has failed to prompt a revival with new coach Francis Cummins having now overseen 10 defeats in 10 games since taking the hot seat.
The signings of Liam Finn, Harrison Hansen and Charlie Gubb have failed to ignite Widnes’ season and even their biggest bright spot of recent weeks, young full-back Olly Ashall-Bott, was helped off with what looked a serious injury at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Their failure to adequately replace Kevin Brown, who left for Warrington almost two years ago, and sub-standard recruitment after they survived by the skin of their teeth last year meant they managed just three wins this term – all in the first seven games of the campaign.
Their only win since beating Salford at home in March was a 90-0 thumping of League One side Coventry in the Challenge Cup back in May.
Unless they upset the odds to mount what would be an incredible great escape in the coming weeks, Widnes look set to become the first team to be relegated automatically without even making it to the Million Pound Game.