It was bottom against second bottom as the Leigh Centurions made the short trip down the M62 to Widnes to take on the Vikings. Both sides are desperate for the win to keep alive any hopes of a top eight finish and avoiding the dreaded middle eights competition.
A victory for Leigh would lift them above the Warrington Wolves and into tenth place, four points behind eighth placed Wigan Warriors but defeat to Widnes would see them drop below the Viking to the bottom of the table.
Although this was the weekend’s basement fixture there was enough at stake to make it a mouthwatering prospect.
On three minutes a crazy bounce from a Widnes kick saw the ball juggled by Leigh defender Nick Rawsthorne before being caught by Chris Bridge and touched down. Bridge failed to convert his own try from the touchline.
Three minutes later and Chris Houston took a superb Rangi Chase pass to step past two defenders and walk over the line to score a four pointer under the sticks. This time Bridge added the extras and with just seven minutes on the clock the home side were ahead by 10-0.
On ten minutes Rawsthorne went close for Leigh but he was brilliantly tackled into touch.
After the early onslaught the Vikings continued to dominate but the Leigh defence held firm and they had their moments in attack. But on thirty-three Widnes extended their lead when Corey Thompson stepped, twisted and turned away from the Leigh defence to ground one-handed by the left corner flag. Bridge again failed to add the extras but his side had a 14-0 lead.
On the stroke of half time Widnes got their fourth try when Houston crashed over the line for his second of the game taking two tacklers over the line with him to score. Bridge added the conversion for 20-0 at the interval.
Nine minutes into the second half and Leigh opened their account when Rawsthorne was on the end of a right to left passing move to take a miss-out pass from Josh Drinkwater to go over. Drinkwater kicked the conversion from wide for 20-6.
On fifty-six Atelea Vea took a Drinkwater pass five out from the line and under the tackle he slid over on his back to ground. Drinkwater failed to add the conversion for 20-10, but Leigh were edging back into the game.
Disaster struck for Leigh as they pushed for more points on sixty-two when Corey Thompson picked up a loose pass and went eighty metres to score under the sticks and give Bridge a simple goal for 26-10.
On seventy-two Bridge broke, dropped the shoulder and found Ince outside to go the last thirty down the wing to score. Bridge failed to add the extras but at 30-10 there was no way back for the Centurions as they sank to the bottom of the Super League pile.
After the final hooter had sounded Widnes kept the ball alive in a scrappy passage of play which saw Matt Whitley score in the right corner. Craven converted from the touchline for a final score of 36-10
This was a professional performance from Widnes Vikings against a Leigh side who seem to be increasingly out of their depth in Super League and destined for a difficult middle eights competition. Widnes are still likely to join them in four away fixtures in the end of season competition but this win will be a massive confidence boost.
Vikings: Craven (G), Thompson (2T), Bridge (T, 3G), Runcimann, Ince (T), Mellor, Chase, Dudson, Heremaia, Buchanan, Houston (2T), Whitley (T), Cahill. Subs: O’Carroll, White, Gerrard, Olbison.
Centurions:Brown, Dawson, Crooks, Paterson, Rawsthorne (T), Hampshire, Drinkwater (G), Burr, Pelissier, Weston, Vea (T), Hansen, Stewart. Subs: Hood, Maria, Tickle, Hopkins.
Referee: James Child.