Vale 37-17 Widnes

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FOLLOWING the red card he received at Leigh, Jimmy Moore was handed down a three week ban by the Lancashire Disciplinary Committee at their meeting which was held on March 29 at Liverpool St Helens.

As a consequence the Vale of Lune were forced to re-structure their line-up for the visit of Widnes with Tom Carter moving to stand-off, his place at full-back being taken by Owen Hughes and Luke Richmond coming in for Rob Ward on the right wing. Phil Berry resumed at hooker.

The absence of Moore did not appear to affect the Vale who collected maximum points against Widnes in an exciting game that had the neutrals present at Powderhouse Lane purring with delight after witnessing 80 plus minutes of pulsating rugby which included a near copybook performance from the Vale forwards in all departments.

After three minutes play the Vale opened the scoring when a well controlled drive that involved all eight forwards ended with Sam Wallbank being awarded an unconverted try; it was all so simple and efficient and was over in the blink of an eye.

It was evident from the opening minutes that Darren Wilson was in his best ringmaster role as he bellowed out instructions to the forwards, giving a verbal shellacking to those who had decided to watch from afar.

Vale went further ahead in the 10th minute when Luke Richmond danced inside off his wing with a deceptive forceful run for an unconverted try.

After absorbing the initial pounding Widnes stabilised the situation and their dangerous three-quarters, as the Vale had discovered at Heath Road in November, started to cut loose. But the visitors’ first try came from a scrum, Michael Lamb touching down for an unconverted try in the 17th minute.

As the game moved into the second quarter a bristling Wilson took matters into his own hands as he bounced his way through the Widnes defence like a runaway dodgem car with sparks flying in all directions.

Tom Carter, who had an off-day with his kicking duties, put over the conversion.

With 10 minutes remaining of a hugely entertaining half Widnes reduced the Vale’s lead with well taken try from full-back Kevin Leadbetter converted by Dave Walsh.

The pace of the game picked up as both sides mounted attacks, many of them from deep in their respective halves.

Hughes, who had not played in the first team since October when he made his 50th appearance at Broughton Park, made a lightning break from his own half that ended with a penalty but the kick was off target.

The Vale went onto the front foot at the start of the second half and took full advantage of the situation because Widnes had a player sent to the sin-bin just before the interval.

From a line-out the ball was moved quickly across field in an orthodox efficient three-quarter move that ended with Richmond not only collecting his second but also a valuable try bonus point, in the 44th minute.

Widnes showed they had not given up the fight and only an all enveloping tackle from the industrious Lee Acton stopped a certain score.

The Vale recognised the threat Widnes posed because in the 62nd minute they pragmatically decided for a kick at goal from a penalty after a forceful passage of play involving Acton and Andy Powers.

The kick was duly converted by Carter via an upright; it was that sort of day for the young stand-off.

Wallbank ended another earth moving exercise by his forwards with an unconverted try in the 67th minute but Widnes posted a third try when wing forward Rob Critchley brushed aside some unconvincing tackling for an unconverted try with eight minutes remaining.

Vale’s strength at scrum time was underlined when they declined a penalty kick at goal and opted for a scrum.

The magnificent eight then proceeded to trundle the Widnes pack backwards at a rate of knots toward their goal line, Wilson made a dart but it was Andy Garnett who claimed the try, converted by Carter, at the end of a game that was concluded with the bright sunshine being reflected off Hesketh’s boots.

Vale of Lune: O Hughes, J Hodder, A Powers, J Higgin, L Richmond, T Carter, D Wilson (capt), J Hesketh, P Berry, M Hanson (A Cowey 58), L Acton, D Perry, A Garnett (A Baines 80), D Lin, S Wallbank (H Fellows 75).

Match sponsor: Cumbrian Properties.