Discipline undermines Fax’s challenge at Super League Widnes

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Halifax’s pre-season continued at Widnes with another defeat, albeit one with more positives than the Boxing Day loss to Featherstone Rovers.

Denis Betts’ side ran out 30-0 winners on the Halton Stadium’s plastic pitch, all but six of those points coming in the second half as Fax ran out of legs and numbers.

The visitors looked up against it from the start as far as any kind of contest was concerned, with Widnes fielding a near full strength line up with a 10 man replacements bench compared to Fax’s seven.

That told in the end, but Richard Marshall will at least have been pleased with the character of a combative performance that saw his side make themselves far more difficult to score against than they had against Rovers.

Their downfall was discipline, particularly in the second half, effectively robbing them of the chance to compete against a Super League side with top eight aspirations as the Vikings ran away with the game in the third quarter.

The opening minutes were saw a glut of handling errors from both sides, the ball slipping from their grasp at regular intervals as bands of rain swept in from the west.

Fax manufactured a couple of half breaks, Scott Murrell slipping through on half way and the excellent Shane Grady punching a hole from a Ben Johnston pass, but the only early score went the way of the Vikings, McGrath Leuluai getting the try after a untidy scramble under the posts.

Rhys Hanbury kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes and that was how it stayed until the break, with some ferocious goalline defence snuffing out the couple of half chances that Widnes managed to carve out.

The Vikings started the second half with another try, Charly Runciman scrambling over in the corner, Stefan Marsh’s missed conversion leaving them sitting on a 10-0 advantage.

They were over again when Fax’s teenage half back Morgan Punchard was drawn in field, giving Patrick Ah Van the chance to score by the corner flag, Marsh’s kick again wide as the score stretched out to 14-0.

That became 18-0 when Danny Craven exploited the same inexperienced defenders to score Widnes’s fourth try, Marsh again putting the kick nearer the flag than the posts.

Leuluai was over for a second as the quality and quantity of Widnes’ squad began to tell, helped by a torrent of penalties that saw Fax playing without the ball for long periods.

A final try from Ryan Ince rounded off Widnes’ win.

Widnes: Hanbury; Thompson, Armstrong, Runciman, Marsh; Craven, Gilmore; Dudson, J. Johnstone, Buchanan, Whitley, Houston, Leuluai. Subs: Burke, J. Chapelhow, Olbison, Walker, T. Chapelhow, Ah Van, Dean, Brooks, Walker, Ince

Halifax: Robinson; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Butler, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Cahalane, Kaye, Tangata, Grady, Bent, Fairbank. Subs: Boyle, Ambler, Nelmes, Moore, Morris, Punchard, McGrath