Vale of Lune’s sad season continued at Powderhouse Lane on Saturday where they were beaten by Widnes in a highly competitive game that could well have gone either way.
The fixture was being replayed after the first was ended by a serious and career ending injury to winger James Curran.
Passes were incisive, the running direct and powerful and the support was both collective and strong.
At last the team was giving their loyal supporters a glimpse of their real potential and with coach Fergus Owens directing operations from the centre, hopes were high of another try-fest. But then just as suddenly midway through the half old mistakes reappeared.
A missed tackle was followed by another and the resulting Widnes try by strong running centre John Leather gave the visitors unexpected hope.
They still came under some testing pressure, but Vale were no longer as decisive, misplaced passes and wrong options ruining the attacking platform provided by their strong scrummaging forwards.
At least two great scoring chances were scorned before a driving forward move ended with Alex Baines crossing the line, but he dropped the ball.
Worse still he was injured in the process and took no further part in the game and to add insult to that injury, some more careless defensive work allowed second row Mike Garrity over for a second try to cut Vale’s lead to 14-10 at half time.
The Vale cause was not helped soon into the second period when James Hesketh was hauled from the field of combat with a worrying looking shoulder injury.
But the weakened Vale pack still managed to trouble the Widnes eight with a series of close handling moves and there was reward when a penalty allowed Charlie Swarbrick to increase the lead.
But the Vale joy was short-lived when some shoddy handling and more defensive mix-ups allowed winger Paul O’Connor to dart over for a try converted by John Hetherington which levelled the scores.
By now the visitors were looking ominously dangerous.
But they too were guilty of some poor mistakes, especially ill-directed kicks but when one of these was helped into touch by the hapless Ali Richards, the resulting line-out allowed the Widnes forwards to take advantage, create some pressure and their impressive scrum half Andy O’Neil touched down for a try to stretch the lead.
Ali Richards was at fault again when he failed to clear a ball on his line, allowing Leather to grab his second try and make sure of a bonus point grabbing victory for his team.