With the London Broncos ripping up the form book earlier in the afternoon, Widnes’s hopes of a Million Pound game slot had slipped further below the horizon. Mathematically they weren’t out of it, but they knew that they needed a big win over the Toronto Wolfpack in Canada.
Toronto were now increasingly desperate for a win and went into the game knowing that they would have to go to Headingley to play the Leeds Rhinos on the last weekend with two consecutive losses meaning that they, themselves, could drop out of the Million Pound Game.
It couldn’t have been any more tense.
It was the perfect start for the Vikings as Joe Mellor was in support to take an offload and go over from three metres to stoop and score. Krisnan Inu added the conversion for 6-0 after twelve minutes.
Toronto got back in the game on seventeen when Cory Paterson shrugged off his tackler to walk in for the Wolfpacks opening try. Gareth O’Brien added the conversion to level the scores at 6-6.
An Inu penalty on twenty-one edged the visitors into a two point lead but on twenty five they lost Chase Stanley to the sin-bin for a rash tackle on Owen Buckley.
On thirty-one Toronto were into the lead thanks to Matty Russell stooping to take a low O’Brien pass and stumble over the line to score. O’Brien pushed his conversion in front of the posts.
An O’Brien penalty attempt on thirty-four missed the target and Toronto went into the break with a narrow 10-8 lead.
The lead changed hands again two minutes after the restart as Chris Dean ran the angle to score by the left corner flag after brushing off the challenge of Blake Wallace. Inu couldn’t improve with the conversion, the lead now just two points in favour of Widnes.
On fifty-six the lead switched again as Blake Wallace scooted from acting half-back to ground on the line. O’Brien was this time able to add the extras two for 16-12. It was getting more nervy by the minute.
A sixty-fifth minute O’Brien penalty extended the lead to six points and four minutes later he slotted over a second after a two man Widnes ball strip. An eight point lead meant that Widnes would need to score twice in the last ten minutes to postpone their relegation for another week.
The Toronto defence held firm and Widnes couldn’t break the line to get the points that they needed. The Wolfpack had the 20-12 win.
This was a close came with the lead changing several times before the Wolfpack finally found themselves a little breathing space. The defeat for Widnes confirms their relegation to the Championship for next season and pushes Toronto into the top three, and an automatic promotion place, with one round remaining.
Next weekend is going to be a nailbiter with the potential for six teams to still be in the mix for automatic promotion and inclusion in the Million Pound Game.
Wolfpack: O’Brien (4G), Caton-Brown, Stanley (SB on 25), Wheeler, Russell (T), McCrone, Wallace (T), Lussick, Beswick, Sims, Dixon, Paterson (T), Emmitt. Subs: Ackers, Sidlow, Buchanan, Krasniqi.
Vikings: Mellor (T), Ah Van, Inu (2G), Runciman, Buckley, Lyons, Finn, Gubb, White, Hansen, Hauraki, Dean (T), Leuluai. Subs: Walker, Houston, Olbison, Wilde.
Referee: Robert Hicks.