AUSTRALIAN scrum-half James Wesbter kept Widnes Vikings’ double winning dream alive after his try nine minutes from time ensured progression to the next phase of the Cooperative Championship play-offs and two wins away from a Grand Final berth.
Northern Rail Cup winners Widnes side left it as late as they possible could do in this tough encounter as Whitehaven had been in charge for long periods before the Vikings finally woke up.
It looked as though Haven were going through when the impressive Karl Rudd dropped a goal to inch Haven ahead with 10 minutes remaining but Webster hit back for Widnes immediately after the restart for the game clinching score.
Cullen admitted after the game that it was Widnes’ ‘toughest training session in three weeks’ – as the Vikings hadn’t played for that period – but that wouldn’t do justice to the courageous effort of the visitors.
In fact, Ged Stokes’ men chalked up an 18-4 lead before Widnes dragged themselves back into it with two tries from Tim Hartley either side of the half, after Shane Grady had gone in early doors.
Widnes only took the lead on 58 minutes as Anthony Thackeray ghosted over for a solo effort to make it 20-18 but Rudd levelled it with a penalty goal to set up a thrilling finish. Rudd was on hand again with the boot to give the Cumbrians a one point advantage but Webster made sure of Widnes’ fate with a opportunist try which was enough for victory.
Cullen said: “All the talk in this dressing room is about making another final and we are well capable of it – especially if we get some more bodies back.”