16th February 2018, 19:51 | Warrington
Former England centre Ryan Atkins touched down twice for Warrington Wolves as they got off the mark in Betfred Super League with an 18-10 win at Widnes Vikings.
Atkins was in sparkling form for the visitors and his brace ultimately proved to be the difference in a tense Cheshire derby.
Warrington had won their last nine meetings with Widnes and after building up an 18-4 lead dug deep to hold off a Vikings fight-back.
Wolves burst into an early lead thanks to tries from Atkins and the outstanding Stefan Ratchford.
Joe Mellor's kick into space allowed Krisnan Inu to pull a try back for the Black and Whites before the break.
Atkins collected his second after the interval thanks to an excellent cross-field kick from Ratchford and the game was halted after Widnes skipper Chris Houston collided with referee Phil Bentham, with linesman Jack Smith taking over the whistle duties.
Another try from Inu gave Widnes hope and Ted Chapelhow thought he’d got another Vikings score as he broke through Warrington’s tired defence but he fumbled the ball over the line.
Steve Price was full of praise for Ratchford after claiming his first Super League win as Wolves boss.
“Stef Ratchford was outstanding,” he said. “He did a lot of things really well and that is what Test players do.
“He showed his international class and came up with some really big plays. He was not alone ether, as Ryan Atkins really stood up too this evening, as did Daryl Clark, who I thought was excellent.
“It was a good gutsy win. They scored two tries off kicks which is a bit disappointing but it was all about the win. Our goalline defence was fantastic and we showed a lot of resolve.
“It was a great response and our season can now start. We can kick on from here. There are a lot of good signs now going forward.
Widnes boss Denis Betts said felt his side were unlucky to come out the wrong side of things after a “big effort” from his players.
He said: “It was an old fashioned game. There was bit of bish and bash and real feeling in there between the players.
“We stood up for ourselves and it was a good game. There were a few times where we are an inch away from getting the ball down and that’s the difference.
“We were just on the wrong side of the scoreboard. We just couldn’t convert that effort and energy.”