Widnes Vikings beat Catalans Dragons 12-10 in a nail-biting contest to secure their Super League status for 2018.
The result means the Dragons will travel to Leigh in next week’s Million Pound Game after they twice turned down opportunities in the final moments to go for two points in Perpignan.
Should they have successfully converted one of those penalties then the French side would have had home advantage next week, but the result leaves their Super League future in serious doubt.
Luke Walsh gave Catalans the lead inside the first 10 minutes with a penalty goal as both teams showed nerves in the biggest game of the season.
Both sides continued to make mistakes and Widnes took the opportunity to notch over two penalty goals through Tom Gilmore, the Cheshire side holding a 4-2 lead on the half hour.
The Vikings were dealt a blow moments later when Chris Houston was sin-binned for a high tackle on Thibaut Margalet and Walsh took the opportunity to level the scores again.
However, the home side were unable to build any pressure against the 12 men and the score remained 4-4 at half-time.
Having survived with 12 men, Widnes scored the first try after the restart as Charly Runciman picked up Hep Cahill’s pass off the ground and fed Corey Thompson in the corner.
Gilmore was unable to add the extras but the Vikings added to their lead just five minutes later as Runciman’s break set up field position, before Danny Craven’s long pass put Stefan Marsh over.
The upright denied Gilmore this time but Widnes bot held a 12-4 lead going into the final 17 minutes.
Catalans needed a lifeline and with 10 minutes to go they got one as Julian Bousquet powered onto a short pass from Lucas Albert to score under posts. Walsh converted to reduce the deficit to two.
Lewis Tierney went close with five minutes before the French side twice turned down opportunities to go for two and level the game, a score that would have given them home advantage in the Million Pound Game.
Catalans: Tierney, Duport, Inu, Wiliame, Thornley, Walsh, Myler, Moa, Aiton, Bousquet, Anderson, Horo, Garcia. Interchange: Baitieri, Albert, Margalet, Navarrete.
Widnes: Craven, Thompson, Runciman, Marsh, Ince, Mellor, Gilmore, Dudson, Heremaia, Buchanan, Whitley, Houston, Burke. Interchange: Cahill, Gerrard, Olbison, Walker.
Never such a bad refereeing display all season! not one penalty for offside in the game, when most of the time The Vikings were on top of Catalan before the ball was fully played, but the biggest crime of the match was the late head shot on the Catalan player, when the touch judge came on the pitch, and there seemed such a long deliberation? well over 2 minutes, but…………..the referee choose never to stop the clock Why? leaving just a minute to go, was it to ensure that the so called joke of Million Pound Game was in the UK to please Sky? it is completely stupid how the Sky commentary team sit in Wakefield to commentate on the match seeing only what we see. No wonder attendance continue to drop, will someone not take control of our game, its time to stop believing we are the Greatest Game… Read more »