Toronto ended Widnes’ seven-year spell in Super League with a hard-fought win. Here’s our verdict…
The game started off in quite quick fashion, Toronto shifting the ball, from left to right, like they were on a mission to do the job to seal Widnes’ fate. However, Francis Cummings looked as if he had got his Widnes troops up in better shape after the confidence-boosting victory over Halifax last week.
Joe Mellor was a driving force in the visiting attack as Widnes looked to get the first points on the board. After they had a set themselves, the Wolfpack came back with three sets in response, where Gareth O’Brien troubled the Widnes line. Ashton Sims, formerly of Warrington made a damaging couple of runs near the last tackle.
In the ninth minute, Widnes were awarded a penalty, and as Liam Finn kicked into touch, they battled hard and threatened the Toronto back line. Eventually, they got their reward and scored the game’s opening try through the danger-man Mellor, who received an offload from Chris Dean to run in and put the Vikings 0-4 ahead. After the kick was converted by centre, Krisnan Inu, Widnes felt a 0-6 lead was deserved.
From the restart, Charlie Gubb knocked the ball on in contact and went down injured as a result. Blake Wallace picked the ball up after, but referee Robert Hicks called time off as the Widnes number 43, needed some attention. Toronto were given a scrum close to the Widnes line, then a penalty but still couldn’t find a way past the resolute Widnes defence; Toronto had to settle for a goal line drop out. From this, Paul Rowley’s side came straight up to the Widnes’ line and scored a try with their second rower, Cory Paterson taking it under his wing to score. The score, 6-6. As it seemed, both teams were up for the fight!
Toronto giving away yet another penalty near to their own line gave Widnes two sets to attempt to put themselves back in the lead and yet again, Widnes troubled. The usual saying is, ‘penalty penalty try’ but Widnes took the sensible option and opted to take two points and took a 6-8 lead.
In the 24th minute there was a serious injury to Widnes youngster, Owen Buckley, and as a result Toronto’s Chase Stanley was sent to the sin bin. Former Widnes academy captain, Joe Lyons impressed, playing in the backs and the Vikings came very close to scoring once again but as the game neared the half hour mark, Toronto saved themselves and scored through winger, Matty Russell. against the run of play. O’Brien failed to convert and placed a penalty kick wide as well, but the Wolfpack led 10-8 at the break.
As the second half commenced, both teams looked up to it, just as they did in the first 40 minutes. After a Toronto set, Widnes had their first of the second half and Dean, having assisted Widnes’ first try, scored their second with a strong run. As early as it was in the second half, 43 minutes in, Inu knew how important the try conversion could be, but the kick was missed. As the lead changed hands once again, Widnes kept on the front foot.
Toronto though, as the home team, knew the game wasn’t up and probably knowing the scores in London and Toulouse, a win for the Canadian side would surely put them right back in contention for an automatic promotion place heading into the final round of matches in the Qualifiers. They gave Widnes a powerful examination, Cory Paterson going over the line only to have knocked the ball on, before Harrison Hansen did the same following a repeat set.
Hooker Andy Ackers was running things for the Wolfpack and eventually, his hard work from dummy half paid off as Blake Wallace went over and scored a try to put Toronto, two points ahead. After the kick, Toronto saw themselves four points ahead, which was the most they had led by in the game. Having competed for so long, Widnes were looking woeful as soon as the home side began to get a foothold in the match.
The Vikings did all they could but in the 66th minute, Gareth O’Brien scored a third kick in the game to edge Toronto further ahead at 18-12. Just as Widnes began to play better again, Toronto finished the game off ten minutes from time with yet another O’Brien penalty kick.
With the full-time hooter was minutes away, Widnes had to try something spectacular to get themselves back within a shot of the win, desperately keeping the ball alive to the end, but their time was finally up.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Game over for Widnes
As Widnes’ seven year stay in Super League is over, after Toronto shot the last bullet to Francis Cummings’ side.
They will look to remain stable and regroup in the Championship, as Hull KR did after suffering the same fate, but it will be a testing time as the squad prepares for an inevitable reshaping.
In the final couple of games they finally showed some fight and spirit after a record losing run, and they will need to keep hold of that in what is certain to be a tough second tier campaign next year.
Good time to be part of the Pack
As we enter the final week of the Qualifiers, Toronto’s win, couple with Hull KR’s defeat in Toulouse, sees the Canadian outfit move into the automatic promotion spots.
They travel to Headingley next Friday night to face Leeds Rhinos, who may have already secured their Super League status. Will that one be a game where Toronto achieve back-to-back promotions, or will they still have to face the lottery of the Million Pound Game?
Toronto Wolfpack 20
Tries: Paterson, Russell, Wallace
Goals: O’Brien (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
Widnes Vikings 12
Tries: Mellor, Dean
Goals: Inu (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Toronto: O’Brien; Caton-Brown, Stanley, Wheeler, Russell; McCrone, Wallace; Lussick, Beswick, Sims; Dixon, Patterson, Emmitt.
Interchanges: Ackers, Sidlow, Buchanan, Krasniqi.
Widnes: Mellor; Ah Van, Inu, Runciman, Buckley; Lyons, Finn; Gubb, White, Hansen; Hauraki, Dean, Leuluai.
Interchanges: Walker, Houston, Olbison, Wilde.
Referee: Robert Hicks