21st December 2017, 10:40 | membership
Betfred Super League: 12th: 2nd in the Qualifiers
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup: Sixth Round
Top Scorer: Corey Thompson (13)
They may have made it to the Super League Super 8s in 2016 but 2017 was much tougher going for the Vikings but they did successfully retain their spot in Super League as they turned it on in the Qualifiers.
Following the departure of influential captain Kevin Brown to rivals Warrington Wolves, plenty were writing off Widnes’ chances of success at the start of the campaign.
With just two victories in the opening 15 rounds of Super League, it was very heavy going as the Vikings remained rooted to the foot of the table after Magic Weekend.
The club were heavily hindered by injuries to many of his key men during the regular season, with the likes of Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore, Chris Bridge, Stefan Marsh and Lloyd White all ruled out for long periods of the regular season.
Back-to-back wins over Leeds Rhinos and Catalans Dragons pulled them off the bottom of the ladder but a run of four defeats saw them finish the regular season with the wooden spoon.
Once the top eight was out of reach, Widnes had been building for a strong Qualifiers campaign in order to save their Super League status.
Despite a first round defeat to Warrington Wolves, victories over Halifax, Featherstone and crucially Super League rivals Leigh Centurions put them in a strong position after four games.
A tight defeat to Hull KR put their position back in jeopardy but a win the following week over London Broncos left a crucial game in Round 7 against Catalans – the winner would avoid the £1m Game.
Widnes produced their performance of the season to collect a 12-10 win as they secured their safety by right.
After a relatively quiet winter in terms of incoming players and the loss of skipper Kevin Brown, meant Betts faced an uphill task with Widnes in 2017.
Despite their early season injury crisis, Betts was able to guarantee his sides’ 2018 Super League spot.
Any concerns that Widnes may struggle to recruit this close season whilst was Betts away at the World Cup with England have been quashed, with the likes of Krisnan Inu and Papua New Guinea duo Kato Ottio and Wellington Albert joining the Vikings for 2018.
NEWS: Welcome to Widnes Vikings, Wellington Albert! 6 ft 4, 18 stone star of PNG's @rlwc2017 side: https://t.co/d8MV65neM7 Take a look at what the big prop / winger can do 👇 #WelcomeWellington #YourTownYourTeam pic.twitter.com/M0Z7m2RfoV— Widnes Vikings (@WidnesRL) December 16, 2017
Second-rower Houston was one of Widnes’ most consistent performers throughout the 2017 campaign.
He scooped both the Club Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year at the end of season awards.
When they needed to pull out a performance, they produced.
It was a do-or-die win at all costs trip to Perpignan with the victory guaranteeing their Super League spot by avoiding the dreaded £1m Game.
The Vikings were leading 12-10 after tries from Thompson and Marsh but Catalans were pushing for a late comeback. Marsh produced the match-winner as he executed a brilliant try-saving tackle on Lewis Tierney to secure the win.
After some brilliant trickery from jack-in-the-box Rangi Chase, the ball ball was fed out right to Chris Bridge who found Ryan Ince.
There was still plenty to do for the young winger with the imposing figure of Ryan Hall coming across, but he had the agility to dot down in the corner.
This effort was also voted as May’s Trojan Workwear Try of the Month.