It could only be described as a basement clash as Super League's two lowliest clubs went head to head at the Halton Stadium. Warrington Wolves were looking to build on last weekends win over the Leeds Rhinos as they visited a Widnes Vikings side coming into the game of the back of a hiding at Wakefield.
It had the promise of a low scoring affair as the league's two worst attacks were looking to improve on their average of just fifteen points a game. The prize at the end of the night would be eleventh spot, not what either of these sides would have expected to be scrapping over at the start of the season.
The Wolves were stunned in the opening minute when a mistake from Matty Russell saw the ball picked up by Charly Runciman who passed to Stefan Marsh who stepped off both feet to dive in at the corner. Chris Bridge failed to convert from the left touchline.
On eight minutes, and following two quick penalties in the Wolves favour, Stefan Ratchford threw a miss out pass which allowed Tom Lineham to go down the left wing and score in the corner. Declan Patton also failed to add the two.
The Wolves hit the front on fourteen, once again after back to back penalties, when Jack Hughes took a bullet pass and twisted his way out of the tackle to dive over from five metres. This time Patton kicked the on version for 10-4.
A thirty-third minute short pass from Ratchford to Ryan Atkins saw the Wolves centre over the line but the ball slipped from his grasp in the act of scoring. Within a minute Joe Philbin lunged for the line and this time the video referee agreed with the on-field official and the try was given. Patton struck the conversion between the sticks for 16-4.
Three minutes from the interval and Patton chased his own grubber to stretch and ground one-handed. This time the video referee ruled 'no try' but the Wolves were dominating all aspects of the game. Just for good measure, Patton kicked a drop-goal just before the interval to extend the margin to three converted tries.
The opening to the second half was scrappy and clumsy from both sides but Widnes managed to stop the Wolves from extending their lead.
On fifty-eight it was the Vikings who got the first points of the half when Runciman gathered a Chris Bridge grubber to drop over in the corner. Bridge kicked the extras from the touchline to reduce the deficit to seven.
Despite relentless Vikings pressure the Wolves kept them at bay and on seventy-seven Warrington added two points to their score with a Patton penalty after a high tackle right in front of the sticks.
There was little in either teams performance for them to be proud of. There was some strong last ditch defence but a visible lack of confidence and nervousness. The Wolves rode their luck with the video referee and there will be ongoing discussions about the Philbin try which the Vikings will claim was a double movement.
The Wolves stay eleventh but are now within strike distance of ninth, Widnes have to go to Headingley on Monday looking for a victory over the Rhinos.
Hanbury, Armstrong, Bridge (G), Runciman (T), Marsh (T), Mellor, Craven, Dudson, Johnstone, Chapelhow, Houston, Whitley, Brooks. Subs: Dean, Gerrard, Olbison, Burke.
Ratchford, Russell, King T., Atkins, Lineham (T), Patton (3G, DG), Gidley, Hill, Dwyer, Sims, Jullien, Hughes (T), King G. Subs: Philbin (T), Livett, Savelio, Evans.