Super League: Widnes snatch draw with Catalan Dragons
Widnes secured a dramatic draw with Catalan Dragons thanks to a late try from Tom Gilmore.
Last Updated: 30/05/14 10:44pm
Catalan were leading 26-20 and looked set for victory before Gilmore touched down three minutes from time at the Stobart Stadium.
Danny Tickle then landed the conversion to make it 26-26, denying the Dragons their seventh win in eight First Utility Super League matches.
Catalan had surged into a 10-0 lead but trailed 16-10 at half-time before running in three crucial second-half tries in eight minutes through Morgan Escare, Leon Pryce and Michael Oldfield.
The Vikings were without eight-try winger Paddy Flynn after he picked up a two-match suspension for fighting in last week's defeat at Castleford.
Widnes were also missing Alex Gerrard, Dave Allen and Grant Gore with their places taken by Chris Dean, Danny Galea, Adam Lawton and Danny Craven.
The Dragons kept the side which swamped Bradford 46-4 with Jason Baitieri, Scott Dureau, Brent Webb, Ian Henderson and Greg Mounis still absent.
Widnes, who had lost five and drawn another of their six previous clashes with Catalan, kept youngster Gilmore at scrum-half to partner Kevin Brown.
They were looking to bounce back from two defeats in the last three matches against Wakefield and Castleford - sandwiched by a Magic Weekend win over Salford.
The Dragons made the livelier start with Eloi Pelissier touching down after two minutes, but the effort was disallowed for a forward pass from Pryce.
Widnes' relief was short-lived with their defence all at sea when they allowed a towering Pryce kick to bounce.
Thomas Bosc collected the loose ball with his deft cross-field kick giving Daryl Millard a walk-in try after six minutes.
Millard's surging break then ripped the Widnes defence apart with his pass to Vincent Duport allowing the centre to leave Rhys Hanbury in a spin with Bosc's conversion making it 10-0.
Tickle then spilled the ball near the Catalan line on the Vikings' first raid to add to the frustration.
But Widnes clicked into gear midway through the first half with a gem of a pass from Gilmore putting Tickle through a gap for Hanbury to finish off the move in style.
Tickle tagged on the conversion to cut the gap to 10-6 but Widnes lost Cameron Phelps with a shoulder injury with giant Adam Lawton drafted into the centre.
Substitute Willie Isa made an immediate impression with a blistering long-range break which ended with Lloyd White streaking 40 metres after intercepting a stray pass from Pelissier to touch down for the Vikings' second try in the corner.
Widnes went ahead for the first time with Stefan Marsh taking Gilmore's pass to squeeze over with Tickle landing the touchline conversion on his 350th Super League appearance.
Outstanding Widnes cover defence denied Elliott Whitehead a try when he looked a certain scorer and the Vikings went in at the break 16-10 in front.
Levelled the scores
Widnes had managed to keep dangerman Escare quiet in the first half but the full-back shot over eight minutes after the restart with Bosc's conversion levelling the scores at 16-16.
Hanbury then lost the ball while trying to clear his own line and Catalan took advantage for Pryce to crash over with Bosc's conversion off the touchline making it 22-16.
Catalan added a third try in eight minutes with Oldfield touching down in the corner from Pryce's kick.
It needed a flash of inspiration to get Widnes back in contention and that was provided by Brown whose long pass put Jack Owens over unopposed in the corner to cut the deficit to 26-22 on the hour.
Widnes left it late with Gilmore going over and Tickle booting the goal.
There was still drama with Bosc off target with a drop goal for Catalan, and Danny Craven coming up just short with a 40-metre effort for Widnes.