Warrington kicked off their 2017 pre-season campaign with a 28-18 victory against local rivals Widnes in a hard-fought festive affair which showcased the young talent of both sides.
With a number of big names missing from both sides, the spotlight instead turned to both clubs’ Academy products – and there were plenty of positives for both teams.
New Wolves recruit Kevin Brown was not passed fit to make his debut, meaning an unlikely half-back pairing of Toby King and Joe Westerman – but in the first half, it was the Vikings who were the better side.
Without Brown, Joe Mellor was partnered by Tom Gilmore for the first time, and although Mellor was withdrawn during that first half due to injury, Gilmore had a stellar afternoon.
He had a hand in all four tries Widnes scored, including the two which put them 10-6 up at the break courtesy of Ryan Ince and Stefan Marsh dotting down.
The Wolves fell further behind when a slick move sent Keanan Brand over, but after Benjamin Jullien’s kick put Ryan Atkins in, Widnes went further ahead again when youngster Liam Walsh scored.
The Wolves, however, finished with a flourish; after Toby King raced 40 metres to reduce the gap to two, late tries from Declan Kay and Rhys Evans sealed the win.