Four Successive Defeats for the Vikings
Widnes’ loss to Castleford yesterday means that the Vikings have now lost four successive Super League games since the start of the Easter period. The result sees them drop down to fifth, but it cannot all be blamed on injuries. While Denis Betts’ men still have Stefan Marsh and Charly Runciman out, the spine of the team is there – Rhys Hanbury and Kevin Brown amongst others.
It is their defence and their tactical awareness which let them down yesterday. After going 18-0 down inside twenty minutes, Daryl Powell’s men responded by speeding up the play-the-ball and really getting at the Widnes defence, taking a risk with being offside in the process. But it worked. The Vikings’ defence couldn’t cope with the faster pace of their defensive sets, and when they did come to complete their own attacking sets, the kicks from Joe Mellor and Kevin Brown faded from what had worked towards the start of the game, often being easy pickings for on-loan Wigan full-back Ryan Hampshire.
The Return of Widnes’ Attacking Flair
Despite losing, Widnes can take some positives from the game. Throughout the periods in which they dominated, we witnessed the return of some of the attacking flair that saw Widnes rise to the top of the table towards the start of the season. For Widnes’ first try, scored by Patrick Ah Van in the third minute, it only took simple play across the line, orchestrated by half-back Kevin Brown, to see the Vikings cross in the corner.
I was sat in line with the Widnes attack for the Vikings’ first try, and it didn’t take long to notice Kevin Brown barking out his orders and setting up a play that eventually led to the opening try. It didn’t take much for Denis Betts’ men to score in the end, but the setup of players and dummy runners is something the home side have missed greatly. I watched on Good Friday this year as Widnes struggled to get close to the Warrington line after five repeat sets at the opposition’s end – I saw Gil Dudson and Manase Manuokafoa take multiple drives in. It just shows the value of a half-back with a bit of know-how about him.
Denny at it Again
Castleford winger Denny Solomona stole the show yesterday afternoon, scoring a simple hat-trick to lead his team to victory. It isn’t the first time Solomona has scored a hat-trick – he got two last season, including a four-try romp at the Magic Weekend. He last scored a hat-trick in the 32-16 loss to Salford earlier in the season.
And the aspect of Solomona’s game that stands out to many is that he is a prolific winger. This season, he has twelve tries from ten games, including nine scores from the first five games. He rarely scores just one try in the games in which he does score – in the five games in which he has done so this season, Solomona has tallied at least two tries in four of these five games. It seems that whenever he scores, he is always hungry for more.
Castleford in Seventh
The result sees Castleford in seventh, after a mixed run of form throughout the season. The Tigers have now recorded three wins from four after suffering a defeat to St Helens, a battering by Warrington and a 32-16 loss to Salford. Daryl Powell will hope that the victory over Widnes can be a springboard for a good run of form heading into the second third of the regular season.