Million-pound match on horizon as Wakefield Wildcats falter

Jacob Miller is tackled during the loss to Widnes Vikings.  RLPHOTOS.COM
Jacob Miller is tackled during the loss to Widnes Vikings. RLPHOTOS.COM

Full-back Rhys Hanbury scored four tries as Widnes took another major step towards retaining their Super League status with a 46-4 rout of lack-lustre Wakefield at Belle Vue.

The Vikings produced a clinical performance to secure a fourth win from five matches in the Super 8s and leave Wakefield looking at the million-pound play-off tie as their most likely way of preserving their top-flight status.

The Wildcats had been competitive in their previous four Qualifiers’ fixtures but they were no match for a superbly-organised Widnes side that dominated from start to finish.

They had kept their line intact throughout the second half of their 56-12 win at Bradford last Sunday and it took Wakefield 53 minutes to find a chink in their armour.

The writing was on the wall for the home side as early as the third minute when full-back Kevin Locke pulled off a flying tackle to present his opposite number Hanbury from opening the scoring.

Second rower Danny Tickle then lost the ball going over the line and it was no surprise when Widnes went in front, skipper Kevin Brown getting Charly Runciman through a hole and hooker Lloyd White was in support to touch down.

A couple of back-to-back penalties enabled Wakefield to apply some pressure to the Widnes defensive line but they rarely looked capable of breaching it.

The Vikings looked especially threatening down their left channel where a sublime handling move involving Runciman and Patrick Ah Van brought Hanbury his first try.

The full-back punished a handling error by Wakefield stand-off Jacob Miller to add a second and replacement hooker Aaron Heremaia finished off a clean break by White.

Tickle’s third goal made it 22-0 at half-time and Widnes strengthened their grip when Hanbury raced onto Brown’s grubber kick to complete his hat-trick, shortly before Brown jinked his way over for a solo try, with Tickle making it 34-0.

Wakefield finally stemmed the tide when centre Bill Tupou, easily their best player, freed winger Lee Smith with a delicate one-handed pass and, although he was brought down by a scrambling Brown, Smith forced his way over.

It did little to disrupt the Vikings’ rhythm, however, as they continued to torment the fragile home defence.

Hanbury went over for his fourth try on the hour and winger Paddy Flynn went through some shoddy tackling to score the 100th try of his career. Ah Van kicked the last two goals.