Widnes Vikings aim to improve TV record in Halifax Panthers test

John Kear wants camera-shy Widnes Vikings to become Premier performers by toppling Halifax Panthers in their live-screened showdown at the DCBL Arena tonight (Monday, September 5).

Neither the experienced coach nor his current team have been comfortable when appearing on the pay television sports channel.

Widnes were 36-10 winners at home to Dewsbury in their first Monday-evening outing in February, when Simon Finnigan was coach.

But they have since lost at Leigh (in the Challenge Cup fourth round), at home to Barrow and away to Newcastle under Finnigan, and at Sheffield under caretaker chief Ryan O’Brien.

Kear, when at the Bradford helm earlier this year, suffered two televised Monday-night losses against Leigh, away in the league and at home in the Challenge Cup fifth round, and one at home to Featherstone in what proved to be the final match of his four-and-a-half year Odsal stint.

And the Wales chief’s nine games so far with Widnes includes their 36-24 defeat by Barrow at the Summer Bash, when Premier Sports showed all seven matches.

Having lost 42-4 at Leigh, who clinched the League Leaders’ Shield as a result, last time out, Widnes now face a Halifax side who are heading for the play-offs and have won their last five games running, and 19 out of 25 in the league so far.

However Widnes won 9-8 at The Shay in the third round of league fixtures, and Kear is looking forward to the rematch, and an attempt to complete a fifth double for the club this season (after those over Dewsbury, London Broncos, Whitehaven and Workington.

“It might sound strange after such a loss, but there were lots of little things we can point to as positives against Leigh, which bode well going forward,” he said.

“We were up against a great side who are building for the play-offs and played the game like it was a play-off.

“I’ve told the players to learn from the experience, and hopefully they will, and to try to be that bit smarter so as not to gift the opposition as many sets as we did.”

Premier will screen one of the Championship play-off eliminators on Monday, September 19, both semi-finals on Sunday, September 25 (Leigh and Featherstone, having already clinched home advantage, will kick-off at 2.00pm and 4.00pm respectively) and the Million Pound Game on Sunday, October 2 (6.30pm).

Widnes 21-man squad: Jack Owens, Jake Spedding, Ryan Ince, Danny Craven, Matty Smith, Owen Farnworth, Matty Fozard, Shane Grady, Sam Wilde, Adam Lawton, Joe Lyons, Aaron Brown, Liam Bent, Matt Fleming, Olly Davies, Joe Edge, Will Tilleke, Eribe Doro, Callum Field, Josh Johnson, Luis Roberts.

Halifax 21-man squad: Lachlan Walmsley, Greg Worthington, Joe Arundel, James Saltonstall, Cory Aston, Adam Tangata, Brandon Moore, Dan Murray, Ben Kavanagh, Matt Garside, Jacob Fairbank, Kyle Wood, Elliot Morris, Will Calcott, Ed Barber, Matty Gee, Zack McComb, Titus Gwaze, Louis Jouffret, Joe Martin, Kevin Larroyer.

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