The Qualifiers: Halifax 0-14 Widnes Vikings
|Halifax (0) 0|
|Widnes Vikings (0) 14|
|Tries: Runciman 2, Gerrard Goal: White|
Widnes Vikings overcame a stiff test from part-timers Halifax to start the Qualifiers with a victory at The Shay.
Charly Runciman scored twice on his debut and prop Alex Gerrard added the other in a hard-fought contest.
Halifax, the lowest-ranked Championship side to reach the Qualifiers, performed well in a rare scoreless first half.
Widnes, who finished ninth in Super League at the end of the regular season, only made the result safe with two tries in the final three minutes.
Australian centre Runciman, a recent signing from NRL side St George Illawarra, touched down shortly after the interval after Halifax had failed to gather Kevin Brown's kick.
It remained 4-0 until Brown set up Gerrard for his score, and Runciman sealed victory with his second try in the final minute.
Halifax head coach Richard Marshall:
"We maybe should have capitalised when Widnes were down to 12 men, but it was a great performance from us and I don't think it surprised the players at all.
"They've played really well this year and are full of confidence. They played with some spirit, vigour and passion in abundance.
"The players have just said 'we didn't play our best' but we were still happy with a lot of areas today.
"If we can get up to something near our best then look out."
Widnes head coach Denis Betts:
"You have got to give a lot of credit to Halifax. They've not won nine games on the trot for nothing and without some enthusiasm and the ability to work for each other.
"They have some decent ex-Super League players in that team who want to try push on again.
"Our attack was a little bit sloppy but that could be down to how well they defended.
"There was plenty of anxiety, yet we still managed to defend our line really well."
Halifax: Johnston; Saltonstall, Heaton, Tyrer, Saxton; Robinson, Murrell; Tangata, Kaye, Cahalane, Moore, Manning, Fairbank.
Replacements: Ambler, Bracek, Maneely, Barber.
Widnes: Hanbury; Marsh, Dean, Runciman, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; Gerrard, Heremaia, Dudson, Clarkson, Galea, Isa.
Replacements: White, Cahill, Tickle, Manuokafoa.
Referee: Robert Hicks