Widnes Vikings secured their Betfred Super League status for next year and condemned Catalans Dragons to the Million Pound Game after prevailing 12-10 in a nailbiting encounter at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Top-flight safety was guaranteed for the winners and it was Widnes who grabbed the opportunity with both hands thanks to second-half tries from Corey Thompson and Stefan Marsh although the Dragons will have another opportunity to retain their Super League place when they face Leigh Centurions next weekend.
The Vikings had never before beaten Catalans in Perpignan but they were still very much in the tie at half-time as two goals from Tom Gilmore sandwiched penalties from Luke Walsh, with neither side's defensive line breached in the opening 40 minutes.
Yeeeeessss!! The boys celebrate at full time. ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/47cmZaxcRq— Widnes Vikings (@WidnesRL) September 23, 2017
It was Widnes who were able to touch down first, with Charly Runciman fortuitously collecting the ball after it had bounced off the knee of Danny Craven and drawing in the cover defence before handing off to Thompson to go over for a try in the 54th minute.
Marsh then collected a pass from Craven, on his knees, to dot down seven minutes later but Gilmore was unable to convert either attempt to leave Widnes with an eight-point lead heading into the last quarter of the match.
Catalans set up a nervy finale when Julian Bousquet's try was converted by Walsh with 10 minutes to go and although the Dragons threw everything into attack, Widnes kept their line in tact to clinch an important win.
Get in there #widnesrl— Stefan Marsh (@StefMarsh3) September 23, 2017
Widnes coach Denis Betts said: "I'm relieved. We made it hard work for ourselves, I thought we were the better team, we scored a couple of decent tries. It was edgy. it was a great day, the pitch was great, the sun was out, there was no wind, it was dry - and the rugby was rubbish."
Catalans coach Steve McNamara said: "I'm really disappointed, we didn't play well enough to win the game even though we could have snatched it right at the end. It is a tough situation, we didn't want to play safe and try and get a home game next week, we had to try and win the game. Unfortunately we couldn't do that."