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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Beaten Haven running out of time to avoid the drop

RELEGATION-threatened Haven are running out of time if they are to rescue their season after Thursday night’s 10th consecutive defeat.

They battled hard throughout the match but were ultimately outdone on the edges. In Kyle Amor, Paul Johnson and Kyle Bibb, they had props who were a match for their Widnes counterparts.

Yet Haven were comprehensively out-pointed in the end. It’s not that they lack quality, they just don’t possess enough of it to make a decent fist of Championship rugby at present.

We’ll never know if Kiwi Motu Tony would have made much of a difference, but it was typical of Haven’s luck this term that they lost the scrum-half to injury in the warm-up.

The late reshuffle saw teenage prop Danny Bower debut off the bench, and it was easy to see why the club have high hopes for him.

Playing in the toughest of positions, he did not let his side down. The same could be said of a second new teenager, Loz Hamzat, who debuted on the wing.

He had two chances in the corner ruled out by the video ref and was sound in defence. Haven may have unearthed a gem in the Lancaster student, who played the second-half with a rib injury.

The hosts were enthusiastic from the first kick-off but went behind in the eighth minute, scrum-half Thomas Coyle kicking through for second-row Dave Allen to score. Shane Grady booted the first of his four conversions.

Allen was in the thick of the action again moments later, running a nice angle to break the line. He was finally shackled by Derry Eilbeck only for the full-back to linger too long in the tackle.

From the resulting penalty, Lee Doran produced a peach of a pass out of a tackle for Grady to cross.

Allen grabbed his second on 20 minutes, showing great footwork to evade the defence. With little over a quarter of the match gone, the Vikings were almost out of sight at 18-0 up.

Haven finally found their form and set up a dangerous attack, Hamzat bundled in to touch as he dived for the corner.

Back-to-back penalties handed Haven another opportunity, with Scott McAvoy forcing a dropout off Carl Rudd’s kick.

Another bright spell, after Widnes failed to deal with a Leroy Joe bomb, led to a Haven try on 37 minutes.

Good work from Craig Calvert prompted a drop-out and Eilbeck burst through for a score in the corner.

The visitors continued to force the issue after the break. The defence melted away as Kirk Netherton broke clear from dummy-half to score, and Doran then swept aside some weak attempted tackles to add another try.

At the other end, Rudd’s neat kick was forced dead with Calvert bearing down, and on their next set, desperate defence denied Hamzat in the corner.

Widnes were making the most of their chances while Haven were clearly failing to do the same.

Netherton’s acceleration produced a try for Grady, Danny Craven’s conversion making it 34-4.

Amor cut loose and had Eilbeck in support, but the prop took on the defence rather than look for the support player and was taken down in the shadow of the posts.

On 65 minutes the visitors produced a cracking try, Doran batting back Anthony Thackeray’s cross-field kick before it sailed in to touch and Richard Varkulis touching down.

Bibb broke the line in the closing moments only for Haven to conjure a knock-on.

Their next two assignments are formidable, at Halifax on Sunday before entertaining Featherstone. They sign off with a visit to Keighley sandwiched between home games against Dewsbury and Batley.

The season can still be salvaged – but the clock is ticking.

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