We’ll never know if Rangi Chase would have set Widnes on a different path if his brief spell in 2017 hadn’t come to an enforced end.
He showed glimpses of his talent in a West Wales Raiders side that caused Widnes some problems in the early parts of the Challenge Cup first round clash, and enough to suggest that he should be playing at a higher level than the Llanelli-based club can offer.
His positive drugs test following a game against Wakefield brought a six-game run to an abrupt end, just weeks after he had signed a permanent contract to stay at the club. He hasn’t played in Super League since.
The former England international might well have filled the void left by Kevin Brown and inspired something much better than the club delivered in 2018 – though may be the writing was on the wall anyway.
Back to the present day though, and despite the novices and lack of quality around him, Chase clearly relished the mantle of main man and it was a sobering opening 10 minutes for Widnes, in their first match for a year.
The unfortunate injury to Calum O’Neill enabled the Vikings to re-group, and in truth, after that and Shane Grady had ran in the first try, they weren’t troubled.
A silly red card for Jamie Murphy for a spear tackle on Owen Buckley, for which he has subsequently been banned for five matches, put a definite end to West Wales’ challenge and Widnes could complete the rest of the match as if it was a pre-season hit out.
With no sign of new forwards Paul Clough, Matt Cook and Lee Jewitt, the move of Kenny Baker to prop didn’t really seem to have the desired effect – and he must be the number 13 for the majority of this season.
Other than that, it was hard to get a true assessment of where Widnes might. Adam Lawton had the sort of impact that it would be nice to see week in week out, especially if players can back him up.
Jake Spedding’s try, off a Deon Cross break, won the Our League Try of the Week.