Widnes 6-16 Leeds: Rhinos compound Vikings' woes
Last Updated: 15/09/18 7:03pm
Incoming Leeds coach David Furner can feel more confident of taking over a Super League side after the Rhinos gave their survival hopes a huge lift with a 16-6 win over seemingly-doomed Widnes.
It was just the tonic Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield needed after their 38-36 home defeat to Hull KR last week, but it was far from a stellar performance from the Yorkshiremen who had to dig deep for the win.
They were second best for large periods of the encounter and it was only when Australian hooker Matt Parcell crossed on 55 minutes that the Rhinos could breath a sigh of relief as Widnes tested them in every department.
Despite their troubled season, Leeds announced Furner as their new boss on Saturday and he can surely now make plans for a crack at the big league in 2019.
However, Leeds' hopes of a win in this relegation battle were given a blow early on as skipper Stevie Ward was ruled out before the game after he failed a fitness test on an ankle problem.
Josh Walters came on as his replacement and he and his team-mates were under pressure from the first whistle from the home side, who were seeking their first win in 19 attempts.
Owen Buckley thought he had got the opener as he stepped his way to the line on the left edge, but the rookie winger had put a foot in touch.
Widnes looked to make the breakthrough but a loose pass in midfield was picked up by ex-Viking Richie Myler, who scampered 20 metres before off loading to pacey Luke Briscoe to finish off from long range.
Enthusiastic Widnes did not let the counter-attacking try turn to another further two or three scores which has been the theme so far in this Super League Qualifying campaign and Liam Finn popped up with a short ball to the impressive Tom Olbison as the Vikings hit back in style.
Krisnan Inu was successful with the conversion to give them a deserved half-time lead. Inu was in the thick of the action after the break and he nearly scored the first try of the half as Finn hoisted up a kick out wide that the big Kiwi nearly caught and grounded.
The Vikings were ramping up the pressure on struggling Leeds and the same combination from Finn to Inu again nearly yielded a try.
Three consecutive sets of six from Widnes was eventually sucked up by the dogged Rhinos and it proved to be a critical period as they dragged themselves back in front through Parcell following a massive 40/20 from Liam Sutcliffe.
At 10-6 was minutes remaining it was a test of the Rhinos' nerve to finish the job and they just had enough to grind it out with Myler going over at the death to make it certain.