Vale of Lune’s clubhouse was a shimmering glistening cascade of Christmas decorations but even under such a dazzling display there was little to cheer about for the home supporters about after Widnes had inflicted on them their second home North One West defeat of the season.
By half time Vale had established a 10-0 lead but as the touch line pundits predicted the weather conditions, a howling, rain laden wind from the brightly lit clubhouse on a Stygian grey afternoon, all were of the opinion that a measly haul of ten points would not be enough; their assessment proved spot on.
Vale had first use of the wind and were soon rattling around the eaves of the Widnes stronghold.
Jack Turton was off target with a first minute penalty attempt but he hit the target in the eighth minute whistling his kick over.
Three minutes later Nick Royle chased his kick to register his 26th league try of the season which was converted by Turton with a magnificent conversion from wide on the right.
As the daylight started to fade in the first half so did the Vale’s hopes.
They had failed to bank the point’s necessary to keep Widnes at arm’s length in what, baring some seismic meteorological change would comfortably fall into a game of two halves’ category.
In the closing minutes of the half Widnes skipper and centre Dave Welch splintered Vale’s defence chipped in the direction of winger Paul O’Connor, forcing the Vale to hack the ball into touch for a five metre line out.
The home side defended well, they held a Widnes drive and from the resultant scrum they cleared their line but a warning shot across the bows had been fired.
The softening up began immediately at the start of the second half, the Vale were rolled back and in the 48th minute when stand off Kevin Leadbetter kicked a penalty goal for Widnes.
Five minutes later Widnes drew level when following an attack that stretched the Vale uncomfortably across the field, flanker Rob Critchley broke clear for his try which Leadbetter converted.
To the casual observer the scoreline suggested an evenly balanced game but the die had been cast in Widnes’s favour early on and this was confirmed in the 56th minute when the Vale had a kick charged down inside their twenty and prop Arnie Haydock thundered his way over for not only an unconverted try but an early Christmas present.
When Leadbetter kicked a penalty in the 68th minute the Vale needed to score twice to salvage the situation and although they went at it hammer and tongs in the closing minutes Widnes refused to panic and held on.