Allen expecting close encounter
Widnes Vikings have taken a liking to Blackpool in recent years with Northern Rail Cup Final victories in 2007 and 2009 but skipper Dave Allen is taking nothing for granted ahead of Sunday’s semi-final against Keighley Cougars at Cougar Park.
The Co-operative Championship side booked their spot in the last four with an impressive 26-12 win over Barrow and a third Northern Rail cup triumph in four years would, like fellow semi-finalists Leigh Centurions, boost the Vikings’ bid to return to the Engage Super League in 2012.
Allen said: “Keighley is a difficult place to go to and, despite their result against Dewsbury, they have found a bit of form in recent weeks so we’re expecting a big test especially as we’ve yet to really fire on all cylinders.
“We turned them over earlier in the season in the Championship in convincing style but that will mean absolutely nothing next Sunday.
“We raised our game after a few days off against Barrow in the quarter-finals and will need to do the same again at Cougar Park.
The team face a 150-mile round trip for the semi-final clash and Allen is hoping that the fans will turn out in force as they look to cement their place in the Northern Rail Cup Final on Sunday July 18.
“The Widnes travelling support will play a big part if we are to progress and I’m confident that they will turn out in their numbers,” said the back-row forward.
“I remember watching last year’s Northern Rail Cup Final and it’s a really special day out but we are 80 minutes away from experiencing that. However, retaining the trophy would be very special indeed.”
Despite suffering four consecutive defeats in the Co-operative Championship, the newly appointed Widnes captain is determined to take the club one step closer to another cup triumph.
“I have to admit to being shocked at getting the captaincy. I’m a Widnes lad and supported the club all of my life and leading the team gives me a lot of pride,” added the 24-year-old.
“Chances to pick up silverware are few and far between and memories of last season’s Co-operative Championship Grand Final success with the Barrow Raiders at Warrington makes me want to experience that feeling again.”
Tickets for the Northern Rail Cup semi-final tie between Widnes Vikings and Keighley Cougars on Sunday June 20 are available by paying at the turnstiles at Cougar Park on Sunday with upgrades available within the stadium once you are in.
Ticket prices for the Northern Rail Cup Final at Bloomfield Road on Sunday July 18 start from £12 for adults (£5 concessions) and can be purchased from the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 8561113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.
Supporters purchasing tickets for the Northern Rail 9s, held at Fylde Rugby Club on Saturday July 17, will be given a promotional code to secure a discount for the Northern Rail Cup Final.