Widnes 22-22 Vale of Lune

Paul McLaren-Dorrington got the Vale of Lune's opening try at Widnes.
Paul McLaren-Dorrington got the Vale of Lune's opening try at Widnes.
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Vale of Lune drew their first league game off the season to end the month of March with a mixed bag of results.

The two sides shared the points at Heath Road as Widnes picked up a try bonus point and ended a run of six defeats.

With two North One West games remaining thoughts at Powderhouse Lane are turning to the future but there is almost certain to be a serious appraisal made of how the current season unfolded and what lessons have been learnt.

In the end a draw was perhaps a fair result on Saturday.

The Vale were guilty of letting a 15-0 lead slip, which was achieved after 16 minutes, while Widnes put behind them these early set backs to play with increasing confidence and spirit, and were leading 17-15 at half time.

But frustratingly neither side was able to build on the momentum generated and for long periods the game drifted.

The visitors made the perfect start with a try after a minute following a series of assaults on the Widnes line.

Prop Paul McLaren-Dorrington received the ball in space and once up to full speed he sold a beautiful dummy to cross for an unconverted try.

Vale continued to press and in the 11th minute they went further ahead with a penalty goal as Oli Carter side-footed the ball over from in front.

In the 16th minute things got even better for Fergus Owens’ side as they were awarded a penalty try.

The Vale were driving hard in the red zone, but a good few metres from the goal line, when referee Brown had spotted some skulduggery taking place and with arm aloft he was soon racing between the posts with Carter flipping over the conversion.

Widnes then stood firm and gradually started to edge their way up field as the Vale appeared to run out of ideas, the hosts pinning the Vale in their own half in the second quarter.

The home side’s revival began in the 19th minute when a disjointed looking Vale defence failed to close down a quick passing move that ended with left winger Tom Spencer crossing for an unconverted try.

This score boosted Widnes who came more and more into the game with full back Kevin Leadbetter to the fore.

In the 32nd minute again slick passing caught the Vale cold and another overlap was created on the left hand side, exploited to the maximum by Leadbetter who arced round for a try which he converted.

A few isolated, Vale attacks were easily covered and as the game moved into stoppage time the Vale were again undone by crisp passing, with players taking the ball at speed.

Spencer found himself in acres of space, eventually the Vale sentries woke up and managed to deny the winger the chance to move nearer the posts but they were unable to prevent the try which gave the hosts the lead.

The half-time break gave the Vale the opportunity to clear their heads and they regained the lead in the opening minute of the second half.

Adam Macluskie shifted inside off his wing, lock Andy Powers made a muscular break in a flowing move that ended with Billy Swarbrick jigging away for a try converted by Carter with a thumping conversion from wide on the left.

But Widnes’ resolve was not dented as their forwards began to make life difficult for the Vale. They were rewarded for their efforts in 58th minute when they trundled the Vale back over their line for an unconverted try claimed by wing forward Mike Garrity.

Both sides searched for an elusive score, hearts tended rule heads and as legs began to tire mistakes occurred, but it all helped to rack up the tension.

The game ended with the Vale taking a scrum against the head, Carter hurtling through a gap and Alex Baines almost slipping away, but the Vale were destined to tie their first game of the season.

Vale of Lune: S Coulshed; R Lamberton, B Dorrington, C Lomas, A Macluskie; O Carter, B Swarbrick; P McLaren-Dorrington, D Baines, R Pillow; B Charnley, A Powers; S Wallbank (Capt), J Ayrton, A Baines. Replacement: F Owens.