Hull KR pip Toronto to third place in Super League Qualifiers with routine 30-0 win over already relegated Widnes

30 Sep

Hull KR ensured they will be playing in the Super League in 2019 after racing to a 30-0 win over already relegated Widnes at KCOM Craven Park.

Rovers had it wrapped up at half-time when they raced to a 20-0 lead in a game where they needed to win by 14 points to beat Toronto to third place in the Qualifiers going into their final Super 8s match.

James Greenwood scored the game’s first try

It means Toronto will be at home to London Broncos in next Sunday’s Million Pound Game to determine the 12th and final place in Super League for 2019, with the Rugby Football League confirming both clubs are eligible for promotion.

Victory provided a timely pick-me-up for ailing Rovers captain Shaun Lunt, who remains hospitalised with an infection, while a sixth defeat in seven matches meant a disappointing end for Widnes duo Chris Houston and Aaron Heremaia as they entered retirement after the final whistle.

Interim head coach Francis Cummins is facing an uncertain future but the Vikings will have the services of a crop of promising youngsters like Owen Buckley, Joe Lyons and Keanan Brand, who all showed up well in the final game, as well as a £500,000 parachute payment, to help them regroup in the Championship.

Shaun Lunt is currently hospitalised with an infection

Rovers, promoted 12 months ago without having to go through the Million-Pound Game, were desperate to secure survival without it, especially having experienced the heartbreak of defeat in 2016.

There was an early sign of nerves when second-rower Joel Tomkins took a McGuire pass to reach the line only to lose control of the ball and Rovers suffered a blow when stand-off Todd Carney went off on six minutes after taking a heavy blow.

But the versatile Maurice Blair, back in action earlier than expected from a calf injury, slotted effortlessly into the half-back role alongside the influential McGuire as the Robins set about their task in earnest.

McGuire’s short pass got second-rower James Greenwood through a gaping hole in the Vikings defence for the game’s first try and centre Ben Crooks gathered his high kick to score his first try for the club.

Craig Hall kicked both conversions and added a penalty to extend the lead to the required 14-0 with an hour left on the clock.

As the home side continued to make all the running, centre Junior Vaivai dropped Blair’s pass with the line beckoning but there was no stopping full-back Chris Atkin after McGuire had raced clear from Mose Masoe’s offload inside his own half.

Trailing 20-0 at the break, there was no way back for the visitors when Rovers created an overlap for Vaivai to go in for their fourth try on 57 minutes and Hall added another nine minutes later.

They might have scored more as Widnes’ performance disintegrated in the final quarter – they finished with 12 men after Tom Gilmore was sin-binned for dissent – but Tim Sheens’ men had long since ensured it was job done.

Widnes hooker Aaron Heremaia to retire at end of Super League season

1 Aug

Widnes hooker Aaron Heremaia has announced his decision to retire at the end of the season.

The 35-year old former New Zealand international has made 98 appearances for the Vikings since joining them from Hull in 2015 and was made vice-captain ahead of last season.

Heremaia has been with Widnes since 2015

Heremaia, who has made almost 300 senior appearances in a career that included spells at Leigh and New Zealand Warriors, said: “Although my body is feeling fine and I’m still in good shape, you realise that rugby league is mentally quite hard.

“Because I’ve been playing the game for so long and, having spoken to a few friends who have recently retired, I feel like it’s the right time to move on to the next stage of my life.”

Heremaia, who played for the Kiwis in the Anzac Test against Australia in 2010, is now hoping to ensure the Vikings’ survival in Super League before hanging up his boots.

They finished bottom of the table at the end of the regular Super League season and face a series of crucial matches in the Super 8s Qualifiers.

Heremaia added: “My time at Widnes Vikings has been great. The club’s staff, supporters and members have all been brilliant with me.

“Obviously, it’s been a difficult season for the fans, but they’ve been great to us all year.

“We are determined to ensure that we have a strong end to the season and are able to give everyone a better Super League campaign next year.

“There’s so much potential at this club, and I want to play my part in helping it to be realised in the future.

“We’ve got seven huge games coming up and I know everyone in the group are fully focused on ensuring that Widnes Vikings retain their Super League status by the time I hang up my boots.”

Widnes chief executive James Rule said: “I have worked with Aaron for a number of years, having signed him for Hull FC and subsequently at Widnes Vikings.

“Aaron’s on-field contribution speaks for itself, but he has also made an equally important impact off the field.

“Aaron is a leader who epitomises professionalism. He has been integral in driving forward our standards and developing the culture at our club.”