Widnes 58 Wakefield Trinity 16: Webster fumes as Wakefield collapse at Vikings

Crushed: Wakefields Matt Ryan runs into the challenge of Widnes Vikings Chris Dean of Widnes. Inset, tempers flare between both sets of players. Picture: Steve RidingCrushed: Wakefields Matt Ryan runs into the challenge of Widnes Vikings Chris Dean of Widnes. Inset, tempers flare between both sets of players. Picture: Steve Riding
Crushed: Wakefields Matt Ryan runs into the challenge of Widnes Vikings Chris Dean of Widnes. Inset, tempers flare between both sets of players. Picture: Steve Riding
WHEN Tim Smith, the key player in Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ team, made a catastrophic error just two minutes into the game at Widnes Vikings, the visitors might have guessed it was not their day.

Quite how bad an afternoon it would turn out to be only really became apparent at the start of the second half, when Wakefield’s hopes of a fightback, from 24-4 down, were dashed by another disastrous early score.

It turned out to be one of those days when nothing – from individual performances to the bounce of the ball – went Trinity’s way in a 58-16 defeat.

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Though they showed what they can do with ball in hand by scoring back-to-back tries late in the match, the true story of the game was Wakefield’s inept goal-line defence and continual succession of errors.

Widnes played well, but they can’t have expected to face a team apparently so willing to make it easy for them.

Wakefield went from bad in the opening period to even worse after the interval and the final seven minutes, when they conceded three tries, was embarrassing from the visitors’ point of view.

Smith’s early blunder set the tone. Lloyd White, the hooker who had an outstanding game for Widnes, dabbed a grubber kick over the visitors’ line, Smith, under no real pressure, fumbled and a surprised Joe Mellor, who had been following up to make the tackle, touched down.

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Kevin Brown, the former Huddersfield stand-off and Widnes’s most creative player, returned from injury and was at the heart of Widnes’ strong attacking display.

Brown has the ability to unlock the tightest of defences, but that was not what faced him when he received the ball from White close to Trinity’s line after 18 minutes. He should have been wrapped up, but Wakefield’s tacklers did nothing more than help him over the whitewash.

Four minutes later, moments after substitute Scott Anderson had come on and almost immediately limped off, White threw a dummy from acting-half a metre out, the markers all bought it and the hooker plunged through a huge gap.

Brown cut through an even larger hole on 26, from Aaron Heremaia’s pass, after Craig Hall had dropped a towering kick.

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Danny Tickle could not land a fourth conversion, but he did kick a long-range penalty goal two minutes before half-time after Wakefield’s only try of the half had given them a measure of hope.

Chris Riley intercepted a pass and raced 70 metres. He was halted by Mellor, but Wakefield moved the ball right and Richard Owen went over for an unconverted try on the opposite flank.

It could have been even worse for Trinity at the interval. An outstanding tackle by Matty Ryan forced Tickle to drop the ball over the line in the early stages and right at the end of the half Brown kicked in-goal, Tim Smith again failed to gather and though Mellor got his hands on the ball he could not touch it down.

Presumably coach James Webster and his players spent the half-time break discussing how they could get back into the game, which wasn’t quite beyond them at 24-4.

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The plan probably didn’t involve sending the kick-off out on the full and then turning the ball over to Widnes 40 metres from the Wakefield line the first time they had possession. Patrick Ah Van snatched Tim Smith’s pass to turn defence into attack and it was the winger who ended any prospect of a fightback by getting his head down and driving over.

White then supported Brown’s break to score his second, to which Tickle added his fifth goal and the hooker touched down again moments later. Wakefield showed signs of spirit when Danny Washbrook sent Ryan over and then Riley touched down in the next set, both tries being converted by Hall.

But they seemed to think that was enough and the rest of the game was a capitulation.

Ah Van touched down from Brown’s kick and then sent Chris Clarkson in for his first Widnes try, before the defence let a kick bounce and White collected for his fourth try. The same player converted the final four tries, finishing with 24 points.

Webster described his side’s performance as “disgraceful”.

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He said: “It was not of the standard of a first grade rugby league team by a long way.

“We were out-fought and out-muscled throughout the course of the game. There was only one team playing.”

Widnes coach Denis Betts reflected: “We made them (look poor).

“They will say they came here and were really poor, but I thought we did some really good things. The top and bottom of it was we played well.”

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Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Flynn, Dean, Phelps, Ah Van, Brown, Mellor, Dudson, White, O’Carroll, Clarkson, Tickle, Cahill. Substitutes: Kavanagh, Manuokafoa, Heremaia, Galea.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Hall, Riley, Collis, Lyne, Owen, Miller, TSmith, Scruton, McShane, D Smith, Ryan, Kirmond, Washbrook. Substitutes: Godinet, Anderson, Lauitiiti, Paea.

Referee: J Child (RFL).