WIDNES Vikings took a step closer to acquiring a Super League franchise licence by defeating Barrow Raiders in a hard fought contest to lift the Northern Rail Cup.
The Vikings ticked the box for ‘on the field criteria’ at the first time of asking as they dispatched a plucky Barrow outfit courtesy of an excellent first half showing with four well-worked tries.
Jim Gannon and Brett McDermott, who had a running battle for the entire game, were binned after another flare upbut as soon as Widnes let their rugby do the talking they were streets ahead. And when they got down to business they looked the real deal and it was Richard Fletcher who got the Vikings ticking over as he crashed over after Anthony Thackeray’s deft inside pass.
Barrow replied with a try of their own on 24 minutes through Zeb Luisi but John Duffy restored order for Widnes with an opportunist try. Just after the half hour mark pacey winger Kevin Penny darted over after he collected James Webster’s kick and two minutes from the break he was in again.
James Wilson got the Raiders back into it on 50 minutes but Darren Holt missed the conversion.
Toa Kohe-Love hit back for Widnes with an individual effort, stepping through the Barrow defenders to score and at 28-12 the game was as good as won for the Vikings.
However, dogged Barrow continued to press and Scott Kaighan went over. But Widnes had the final say through Richard Varkulis, to put the icing on the cake.
Widnes boss Paul Cullen said: “It was a massive effort and we have got the box ticked. We have set some very high standards and we are challenging ourselves to maintain this form between now and the end of the season. We have worked really hard to get here and to lift the cup is great.”
The ex-Warrington boss, who brought two of his old players in Penny and Steve Pickersgill to rivals Widnes, said of lifting silverware after a baron nine-year spell at the Wolves: “Me, Kevin and Steve were walking around with the cup and if you would have asked me 12 months ago if us three would be here walking around celebrating in the back and white of Widnes, coming from Warrington, then I wouldn’t have given you six-pence for it! But we have been made very welcome here and we are working hard to win over the fans.”