Betts hails Widnes after Wigan draw

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Widnes coach Denis Betts was full of praise for his side’s character after they overcame the dismissal of Patrick Ah Van to earn a 22-22 draw with Wigan on a gripping opening night of Super League XX.

Trailing 10-0 to early tries from Joel Tomkins and Anthony Gelling, the Vikings were staring at a heavy defeat when Ah Van was shown a red card by referee James Child for a high tackle on England winger Josh Charnley on 23 minutes.

Widnes had already lost influential captain Kevin Brown to concussion and they slipped further behind when Gelling added a second try and Matty Smith’s goal made it 16-0.

But half-back Joe Mellor, one of eight ex-Wiganers in the Vikings line-up, pounced on a error by Joe Burgess to bring his side back into the game with an opportunist try five minutes before half-time and Rhys Hanbury, Cameron Phelps and Chris Dean added others as the Warriors waned.

“What you saw tonight was character,” Betts said. “You can’t buy it, you have to nurture it.

“You don’t expect to lose your captain and your main playmaker early in the game and we had to change the way we play.

“I thought Aaron Heremaia was outstanding, he went in there and controlled the game from nine.”

Betts had no complaints over the red card nor the tackle by Wigan prop Ryan Sutton on his captain.

“Kev has got whiplash,” he said. “It was a great shot from the kid, he’s rattled him about.

“It was a red card for Patrick Ah Van, who made contact with his head. I don’t think it was malicious but we’ve got to get rid of that sort of thing. I hope I would be saying the same thing if we had lost the game.”

Wigan coach Shaun Wane revealed that Charnley was still struggling to overcome the effects of his head injury after the game.

“He’s in a bad way, he’s mess, a bit pale,” Wane said. “We’ll see how he is on Sunday.”

Wane denied his side were guilty of complacency after frittering away their handsome lead.

“I think we’re better than that,” he said. “We went away from our game plan and gave eight penalties away in the second half which, right or wrong, invited them into our half where they could score. We were dumb.”

Wigan were without an entire front row, with hooker Michael McIlorum pulling out with a hand injury and joining the suspended Ben Flower and Lee Mossop on the sidelines.

“He took a whack on his hand and it swelled up overnight,” Wane said. “We got it x-rayed and it’s not broken so he should be alright for next week.”

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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