Widnes cannot afford to let things slide

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WIDNES were given the rudest of Super League awakenings at Huddersfield last weekend, the Giants running riot on their way to a 60-point success.

Denis Betts’ top flight new boys were simply never at the races against a team that had notched a shock win at Wigan just seven days earlier.

It was a game that showed two things.

First, Widnes are, as so many expected, the worst team in the competition right now.

Second, Nathan Brown’s Giants are probably the best, or at least something close to it, at the moment.

That is especially impressive considering they are still without one of their creative mainstays, the stand off Kevin Brown.

The big question for Huddersfield is whether they can sustain that form. They have started well before, only to fade when the chips were down late in the year.

Nathan Brown’s record of steady improvement is impressive though, and that, ultimately, is how you build a team that wins things.

But back to Widnes. The Vikings may be a new group of players, who are still learning how to work together.

On the other hand, after only 80 minutes of top flight rugby league, they should, at the very least, have some raw enthusiasm in the tank.

I didn’t see Sunday’s game for obvious reasons, but the scoreline doesn’t exactly suggest that.

Remember 2003? The dreadful year Fax finished bottom of the ladder with one win from 28.

Tony Anderson’s team, built with one and a half financial hands tied firmly behind his back as a result of the near collapse at the end of the previous year, were simply not good enough to play at the highest level.

But for the first month, jacked up on adrenalin, they were still competitive; winning in London and pushing Leeds and Castleford close before the cracks started to open with a drubbing by Bradford at Odsal.

After that, things got worse and worse.

My point is this: If Betts, who was hardly a roaring success at Championship level in 2011, cannot coax a better performance out of his side this weekend - and fortunately for him, they are playing Salford - then even after a fortnight you get the feeling he and Widnes could be on the slippery slope.

And while the Vikings have the security of a three year licence to fall back on, it is hard to see millionaire owner Steve O’Connor having the patience of the proverbial saint.

FOR some, rugby league is about the attack: Speed, skills, tries.

But there is something equally compelling about the kind of defensive effort Halifax produced at Dewsbury at the weekend.

After a stuttering pre-season, Karl Harrison’s new-look side finally came up with a Karl Harrison-style performance, piling into the Rams with unfettered ferocity.

And while they will play better teams over the next 10 months, if they can keep the attitude they showed in the icy mud at Rams Stadium, they won’t go far wrong.