Vikings coach Denis Betts was taking no chances as he named a strong line-up to open his sides Challenge Cup campaign against the part-timers, Coventry Bears. With Widnes third bottom in Super League and Coventry third bottom in League One, twenty-seven places below them, it was likely to be one way traffic.
But this was the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and Widnes will have been keen for a quick start and points on the board to settle any nerves.
The Bears would have been hoping for anything other than a total embarrassment.
Within the first minute Alex Gerrard broke the Bears line and Rhys Hanbury took the pass to go in, it was the worst possible start for the visitors. Tom Gilmore added the conversion. On four minutes Hanbury was the provider, barging through the line and offloading one handed to Patrick Ah Van to score from three metres. Gilmore failed to add the touchline conversion.
Ah Van got his second, sprinting down the wing, on ten minutes. Gilmore hit the far upright with his kick but his side were 14-0 up and the Bears had so far not had any possession in the Vikings half.
The Vikings fourth try came from Lloyd White after Gilmore had done all the damage, stepping through the Bears defence. Gilmore added the extras for 20-0 and it already looked like it would be a long and painful afternoon for the visitors.
Alex Gerrard burst the line before finding Danny Craven who then passed to Hanbury to go over for his second on fifteen. Gilmore added the conversion as the Bears had no answer, conceding almost two points per minute.
The club record win of 88-0 versus Saddleworth Rangers in 2009 was already looking in danger.
With the pace of the game the Bears committed repeated offences and on twenty-five Craven made the most of field position to go over without any attempt at an effective tackle. Once again, Gilmore was unable to add the extras, his third miss of the afternoon.
Within two minutes of the restart Brad Walker was on hand to take a Macgraff Leuluai pass to go over for Widnes’s seventh try. Gilmore managed the conversion this time and with thirty minutes on the clock the Vikings had a 36-0 lead.
After a lull in the scoring Lloyd White drew the defenders before finding Matt Whitley to ghost through the line to score on thirty-two minutes. Gilmore added the conversion to push the Vikings through the forty point barrier.
Hanbury completed his hat-trick on thirty-eight and when Gilmore added the extras it was 48-0 and the Bears hadn’t had a look in. Albert was the provider, skipping through the Bears defence, for Craven to get his second, Gilmore added his seventh conversion for 54-0 as the half time hooter sounded.
A cut out pass from Gilmore put Ed Chamberlain over in the corner for the first try of the second half on forty-nine. Gilmore was able to convert from the touchline to bring up the sixty. Two minutes later Danny Walker scooted from acting half-back to go fifteen metres to score. Gilmore kicked the extras for 66-0.
From the kick-off return Alex Gerrard went through a gap and found Walker who in turn found Craven in support to get his hat-trick try. Gilmore added the extras for 72-0 with plenty of time remaining.
When the Bears spilled the ball in the Vikings half the home side broke downfield and four tackles later Craven got his fourth of the afternoon as the hour mark came up. Gilmore was unable to add the goal from wide.
Fast hands allowed Jordan Johnstone to find Ah Van to be the third player to get his hat-trick, who improved the angle. Gilmore failed to kick the conversion but the Vikings had hit the eighty with over fifteen minutes remaining.
On sixty-seven Jay Chapelhow became Widnes’s ninth try scorer, and when Gilmore added the conversion it was 86-0, one score from the record win.
Chamberlain fed Ryan Ince for the record breaking score with three minutes left on the clock. Gilmore was once again unable to convert but at 90-0 it was the Vikings record win.
This was a comfortable Cup run-out for the Vikings who found very little opposition from a totally outclassed Coventry Bears. The points that they scored, regardless of the opposition, will be a big confidence boost for the next few rounds of Super League. The Bears wouldn’t have expected to get close to Widnes but must be embarrassed at the scale of the loss.
Vikings: Hanbury (3T), Ince (T), Chamberlain (T), Runciman, Ah Van (3T), Craven (4T), Gilmore (11G), Gerrard, White (T), Chapelhow (T), Whitley (T), Wilde, Walker B (T). Subs: Leuluai, Walker D (T), Albert, Johnstone.
Bears: Gant, Carter, Pearce-Paul, Bass, Morley-Samuels, Emanuelli, Stead, Thomas, Williams, Vitalini, Gray, Mason, Hughes. Subs: Rice-Wilson, Kaufman, Beddows, Geurtjens.
Half Time: 54-0.
Full Time: 90-0.
Referee: John McMullen.