Proud Betts hails victorious Widnes
Widnes Denis Betts hailed a "special day" for his club after his 12-man side completed the Super League double over Warrington with a stunning 16-6 victory in the rain at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The Vikings suffered two blows on the eve of the match when England forward Gareth Hock withdrew with a calf strain and captain Jon Clarke pulled out after damaging a knee in training.
They then lost Clarke's deputy, Grant Gore, with a broken kneecap midway through the first half and had forward Hep Cahill sent off for a high and late tackle on full-back Brett Hodgson 90 seconds before half-time.
They were trailing 6-4 when reduced to 12 men but fought back to claim a famous win, with 19-year-old winger Jack Owens scoring 12 of their points with two tries and two touchline conversions.
"It's a pretty special day for the club," Betts said.
"There was no expectation. We were a little bit beaten up, we had a short turnaround and we were without the bloke who has been inspirational with his leadership.
"We came with a plan and the weather helped up a bit. We executed really well and made the game really simple.
"You've got to be proud of the enthusiasm and the effort that we showed. It's the first time we've really been in a tough grind in a close game and come out on top. That's part of our learning curve."
Betts had no complaints over the sending-off of Cahill but insists there was no intent by his player to inflict damage on the Warrington captain.
"He didn't miss Hodgy in the face but I think he was slipping," Betts said. "There is no swinging arm and nothing malicious or over-zealous."
Warrington coach Tony Smith accepted that there was no malice involved in the challenge by Cahill.
"I don't like to see anybody sent off," Smith said. "I know he's not a dirty player by any means and I've got no doubt he was not trying to take Brett Hodgson out in that way.
"Things just went wrong and that can happen. I'm sure there was no malice in it.
"Both Hep and Denis were asking about him at half-time and making sure he was okay so there was plenty of remorse as well."
There was little hint of the drama to come when Warrington took the lead with Simon Grix's early try but they failed to build on their encouraging start and allowed their visitors back into the game with a host of handling errors in the difficult conditions.
"We were dreadful with the ball," Smith said. " I was quite pleased with our defensive efforts but had to do way too much of it.
"We were atrocious with the ball. We didn't apply pressure and they did, particularly with their kicking game. I was envious of their kicking game.
"Some of our better players of the year so far were the most guilty of some of the biggest errors.
"We can handle that and we also can applaud Widnes for their efforts. I thought they were very courageous. Being a man down, they worked really hard and hung in there.
"In the corresponding game last year, we got smacked by London and it did us some good.
"We handle those kicks in the teeth pretty well. They are horrible when they happen but are pretty good at learning lessons from it.
"I wouldn't like to think we'll have a performance like that again soon."
Meanwhile, both clubs will be anxiously waiting to discover whether there will be any repercussions from the early crowd disturbance.
Smoke bombs were set off among the Widnes fans and stewards and police went into the crowd to break up fighting.
"You don't want the game to get ruined by people that are there for the wrong reasons," Betts said.