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Super League: Wakefield beat Widnes 12-10 to maintain push for the playoffs
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Wakefield ground out a 12-10 win over Widnes as they extended their remarkable unbeaten run under new coach James Webster to five matches and moved to within two points of the eighth-placed Vikings in the First Utility Super League.
The Vikings totally dominated the first period but had only an unconverted Danny Tickle try to show for their superiority and paid the price when their otherwise impeccable defence cracked twice in five minutes early in the second half.
The defeat means they have now won just once in their last eight outings and are now in serious danger of missing out on the play-offs.
Wakefield, who have claimed the notable scalps of Wigan and Leeds during their recent run, were well below their best on Thursday night but have now won their last eight meetings with Widnes, whose last victory against the Wildcats was in 2005.
Widnes spent most of the first quarter camped in the Wildcats' half and looked the more energetic and purposeful side, largely through the prompting of stand-off Kevin Brown.
They forced three goal-line drop-outs inside the first 13 minutes and from one of them Wakefield's Paul Sykes kicked the ball out on the full to enable the visitors to pile on the pressure.
It told on 17 minutes when second rower Tickle took a short pass from scrum-half Joe Mellor to crash over for the only try of the first half. However, the try-scorer would miss a relatively simple conversion that would end up costing his side.
Wakefield rarely threatened and the biggest cheer from their supporters came with the introduction from the bench of veteran second rower Ali Lauitiiti, who made his comeback from a three-month lay-off with a major knee injury.
Two quick tries
The former Kiwi international livened up the Wildcats' attack with his strong runs and the home side went close to grabbing an equaliser two minutes before the break when right winger Richard Owen was bundled into touch just short of the corner flag.
The game came to life seven minutes into the second half when Widnes winger Patrick Ah Van picked off a pass by Wakefield scrum-half Tim Smith and went almost the full length of the field before being hauled down just short of the tryline by centre Jimmy Keinhorst.
The home side made the most of the let-off, with centre Reece Lyne breaking out of his own half to create the position for their first try, although it came in fortuitous circumstances.
Widnes prop Alex Gerrard was attempting to run the ball away from his own line when he lost it backwards in the tackle and Smith was on hand to dive onto it.
Sykes' conversion edged Wakefield in front and they immediately increased their lead when prop Nick Scruton proved unstoppable in racing on to Smith's pass 10 metres out to score his third try for the club, just 24 hours after signing a new two-year contract.
Sykes' second goal put two scores between the sides but there were only two points in it when Widnes scored their second try on 67 minutes.
Wakefield full-back Richard Mathers failed to clear the danger caused by Mellor's speculative kick and centre Stefan Marsh followed up to get the vital touch, with Tickle adding the touchline conversion to set up a tense finale.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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