Widnes 8 Hull KR 12: Debut try by Lawler as Robins have eye on Wembley

Hull KR's  Kris Welham.
Hull KR's Kris Welham.
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Hull KR warmed up for the Challenge Cup final at Wembley with this hard-fought victory in the driving rain at Widnes.

Tries from Kris Welham and debutant George Lawler were enough as the Robins went top of the Super 8s Qualifiers at the expense of the misfiring Vikings.

Rovers made six changes, bringing in Matthew Marsh, Dane Tilse, Aaron Ollett, John Boudezba and giving Lawler his debut after he was added to the squad following their win against Halifax.

Rovers coach Chris Chester was slightly the happier as his side went into the dressing room with a six-point lead.

The score typified the low quality of proceedings as Widnes failed to deal with a routine bomb. Matty March launched a high kick into what should have been the breadbasket of Widnes full-back Rhys Hanbury, but the Australian committed the cardinal sin of letting the ball bounce on the i-pitch and it fell right into the path of Welham who grounded for the only converted score of the half.

The Vikings replied as Hanbury’s neat footwork created the space for Charly Runciman to power over. Lloyd White missed the extras from out wide.

It was Runciman again who was threatening down the left flank for the Vikings and he had a golden opportunity to put Widnes ahead, but he made the wrong call to go it alone when his winger, Stef Marsh, would have been clear.

The Robins finally got the try they were searching for on 54 minutes. It came in controversial circumstances as the Robins were nearly pulled for obstruction by the official, Joe Cobb, but the whistle did not come and Marsh’s kick was fumbled by Kev Brown into the hands of Lawler for a crucial score.

Josh Mantellato hit his second conversion from in front and at 12-4, the Robins were well in charge.

Widnes had it all to do and tried to force it in the closing stages, with Matt Whitley grabbing a consolation, but they did not deserve a reprieve after a very disappointing display.

Widnes: Hanbury, Flynn, Dean, Runciman, Marsh, Brown, Mellor, Gerrard, White, Dudson, Tickle, Galea, Cahill. Substitutes: Heremaia, Clarkson, Manuokafoa, Whitley.

Hull K R: Dixon, Cockayne, Salter, Welham, Mantellato, Marsh, Chisholm, Allgood, Boudebza, Tilse, Ollett, Blair, Burke. Substitutes: Lawler, Green, Greenwood, Donaldson.

Referee: J Cobb (RFL).