Widnes 36 Toulouse 42
Granted jd, this is not a Super League team at Widnes yet, the difference is that the money from Sky TV/RFL that the championship clubs get is £300,000 and super league clubs get £1,500,000. Quite a big gap in affordable pay scales and therefore the money attracts the quality players, no brainer! Still, it's exciting to watch and there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Vikings.
Saturdays game against the French was both good and bad. In the first half Widnes were very bad, in the second half they were very good. Toulouse were very good first half and bad in the second. The referee was poor throughout.
To concede 30 points first half the defence of Widnes was non existence. Too many dropped balls, no determination in the tackle and far too slow in the line speed when Toulouse had the ball. Toulouse didn't have to work hard to get their points, Widnes gave them away. Another facet of the Vikings play in this half was the lack of direction, nobody was willing to take control and call plays to attack or organise the line to defend. Players who should know better were also making schoolboy mistakes of dropping the ball, looking at the man coming in to tackle them and not the ball and hanging off in the tackle, not good at all.
Toulouse were totally organised by their number 7, Nathan Wynn, in my opinion the man of the match. He controlled everything the French did, both in defence and attack. His kicking game was excellent both out of hand and place kicks. Seven out of seven conversions speaks volumes. Not only was his kicking good but he also scored two tries as well.
Second half was a turnaround performance by Widnes. Anthony Thackeray took control and was excellent in attack, scoring three tries. He ran at the opposition causing them onto the back foot allowing Widnes to gain ground time and time again. Jim Gannon and Ben Kavanagh ran straight and punched holes in the French defence, knocking them of the composure they showed in the first half.
Dumb play though still happened with the Vikings, none more guilty than Thomas Coyle when scoring his try. Over the try line, nobody near him and he placed the ball down wide out when he could have gone under the posts. The goal kick was missed leaving Widnes still needing a converted try to draw level. Too much to do and too little time to do it in and Widnes lost.
The referee was poor and the linesmen added nothing to aid him officiating of the game. Too many offsides, forward passes, lying on at he play the ball and a blatant mistake when a Widnes kick was judged to have gone in touch on the full when clearly it bounced at least a foot in play. Maybe I am biased towards Widnes but you can only but hope that the match officials take appropriate action when fouls are consistently ignored to the detriment of the game.
This was a game that the Vikings should have and could have won had they been more aware and astute in the first period.