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Rugby League: Relieved Vikings boss settles for an 'ugly win; WIDNES ........35 LEIGH ...........28.

Byline: By JOHN LAWLESS

WIDNES VIKINGS got their Engage Super League season back on track with a 35-28 win over Leigh Centurions at Halton Stadium.

However, it took a late drop-goal from teenager Paul Crook, making his home debut, to finally settle the issue.

Vikings coach Frank Endacott was a relieved man.

'An ugly win's better than a pretty loss,' he said. ' I thought at times they played the better football.

'We played in the first half in patches but I thought we were negative in a lot of situations out there.

'The result is what we wanted but if we play like that against Warrington on Tuesday then we haven't got a show.'

The Vikings had Adam Hughes making his first appearance of the season on the wing and he opened the scoring with a try up the left touchline.

Sadly he was injured in the act of scoring and had t o leave the field with Paul Ballard substituting.

Leigh hit back on nine minutes when a crisp pass fromscrum-half John Duffy put second row Ian Knott over for a an easy touchdown.

Neil Turley's conversion gave the visitors a 6-4 advantage.

It didn't last long as Moule restored the Vikings lead after hitting hooker Mark Smith's bullet pass at speed with Crook converting.

It was see-saw stuff as Leigh stormed back.

Former Warrington winger John Wilshere squeezed in at the corner after concerted pressure on the Widnes line.

Turley's fine touchline conversion put Leigh 12-10 up after 23 minutes.

A series of penalties piggybacked the Vikings into the Leigh '20' were Andrew Emelio controlled a long pass from scrum-half Gary Hulse with his foot before touching down.

Crook's conversion mirrored Turley's at the other end.

At last Widnes broke the pattern of tit-for-tat scoring when substitutes Sala Fa'alogo and Matt Whitaker combined with the latter crossing for another sixpointer to send the Vikings in with a 22-12 half-time lead.

The second half started scrappily but the tension was broken when Hulse scampered over from 15 metres after picking u p aloose pass from prop Julian O' NeillLeigh hit back when Craig Stapleton barged over but the Vikings were soon back in business with a second try for Emelio to make it 34-18.

Two tries in quick succession from the Centurions put the game back in the melting pot at 34-28 with eight minutes remaining.

Crook's drop-goal settled the Vikings nerves and the outcome of the match.

Widnes: Rowlands; Emelio, Connolly, Moule, Hughes; Crook, Hulse; O' Connor, Smith, O' Neill, Stankevitch, Frame, Finnigan. Subs: Mills, Fa'alogo, Whitaker, Ballard.

Leigh: Turley; Maden, Jackson, Cooper, Wilshere; Kent, Duffy; Stapleton, Rowley, Fleary, Leafa, Knott, Wilkes. Subs: Sturm, Moore, Mc Currie, Govin
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2005
Words:450
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