After two weekends without a game, Widnes return to action on Sunday at home to Batley.
The reverse fixture was one of the low points of the season, a crushing 48-16 defeat at Mount Pleasant with perhaps the worst second half performance by a Widnes team in living memory.
Fortunately, in the eight games leading up to this enforced break – due to the 1895 Cup final weekend and a COVID outbreak at London Broncos – there had been signs of encouragement that bode well for the remainder of this season.
The picture would have looked much better had narrow defeats to the Broncos (22-24) and Halifax (16-17) resulted in victories.
As it is, there are only two wins to show from the last run of six matches, and while the play-offs are still within reach, winning the majority of the remaining eight games is a must.
In that eight are tough trips to York loan rangers and Dewsbury – who have both beaten Simon Finnigan’s side at the Halton Stadium this term – and a first league trip to Cumbria for 11 years against a Whitehaven side that has climbed the table and away from the threat of relegation in recent weeks.
The fourth away game is on the final day at Swinton, where Widnes lost 70-0 to Toulouse earlier in the campaign, with four home games – against Batley, Halifax, Oldham and Bradford.
On the form that Widnes showed in that run of seven games – starting with the win over Whitehaven up to the defeat at Halifax – then winning at least six of those remaining eight games looks achievable.
Whether that is enough to secure a place in the top six and an outside chance of a return to Super League via the play-offs, remains to be seen.
It seems that there is a meeting this week to discuss the future of the game.
The drop in money from the Sky TV deal could soon be compounded by a ban of betting sponsorship, which appears imminent. That will be a blow for clubs income, but we can still recommend places like platincasino.com to gamble in a novel way.
Yet another re-structure is being mooted, and some League 1 clubs are at risk of being cut adrift from the professional game.
While Widnes won’t be at risk, clearly there’s a significant drop in central funding available for next season, which has to be a concern for everyone.
Having said that, the noises from many clubs is simply that they want clarity on just what they actually are getting – so they can crack on with recruitment for 2022 and beyond.
Meanwhile, Widnes have announced the signing of young Wigan hooker Aiden Roden on an initial two-week loan.
Despite the recent signing of Lewis Hulme, Widnes have been looking to fill the void left by Roden’s Wigan team-mate Brad O’Neill, who was recalled by the Warriors recently and put straight in to their Super League side.
Lewis Else suffered a head knock in the recent game against Halifax.
List of remaining fixtures
- Sun 1 Aug – H – Batley Bulldogs – 3pm
- Sun 8 Aug – A – York City Knights – 3pm
- Sun 15 Aug – A – Dewsbury Rams – 3pm
- Sun 22 Aug – H – Halifax Panthers – 3pm
- Sun 29 Aug – A – Whitehaven – 3pm
- Sun 5 Sep – H – Oldham – 3pm
- Sun 12 Sep – H – Bradford Bulls – 3pm
- Sun 19 Sep – A – Swinton Lions – 3pm