Whitehaven 29 Newcastle Thunder 20

If Whitehaven are to survive in the Championship the key will be how they perform at home.

Gaining as many points as possible at the Recreation Ground is vital and they set the benchmark with a hard-working win over Newcastle Thunder.

There were some low moments in the second half but generally Haven did well and thoroughly deserved their first league win.

Victory was built on an excellent first-half effort in which they scored three good tries to take an 18-6 lead into the dressing room.

They had opened the scoring on 12 minutes with some very good build-up which in the end needed sloppy defending to see it through.

Karl Dixon with a break on halfway continued by Ellis Gillam saw Nikau Williams takeover and put in a kick towards the corner.

Jack Johnson was favourite in the race with Andrew Bulman but made a mess of tidying up and the Whitehaven winger grabbed the ball to score.

Lachlan Walmsley, who continues to add to his burgeoning reputation, landed the conversion.

Six minutes later the hosts were able to double their lead.

Lewis Young knocked on to put Haven in a good attacking position and eventually Williams put Connor Holliday diving over for the second try, which Walmsley converted.

Newcastle should have got a score back after Williams fluffed the restart kick but Callum Turner dropped the ball a few feet out.

Subsequently, on 26 minutes, Walmsley took the opportunity to add two points when he put over a 30-yard penalty.

Newcastle finally opened their account on 29 minutes after Jay Chapelhow had been held up over the line. They moved the ball smartly to the left and Kieran Gill drove through a gap for the try, which Josh Woods converted.

But Haven had more breathing space on 32 minutes.

Declining a short-range penalty, they were rewarded with a spectacular diving try in the corner for Bulman after the ball had been moved smartly right.

It stayed at 18-6 until the 59th minute, during which time Haven did all of their best work in defence.

Then, on one of their relatively rare forays into the Newcastle danger area, Dixon cleverly twisted and turned out of tackle to dive forward and dot the ball down one-handed. With Walmsley off for treatment, Holliday converted.

But the game could have become a cliffhanger with two Thunder tries in the 65th and 70th minutes from Johnson and Sam Wilde, one converted by Woods.

At 24-16 with just under 10 minutes left it could have been uncomfortable but the crucial try for Haven came five minutes from the end.

Jason Mossop put in a low kick near the line and, although Newcastle should have gobbled it up, Walmsley suddenly appeared out of nowhere to gather and score.

Williams, who continues to catch the eye, added the security of a field goal in stoppage time.

An unconverted try from Alex Clegg right at the death was only an added statistic that couldn’t affect the result.

Whitehaven: Walmsley, Bulman, Taylor, Parker, Mossop, Dixon, Williams, Dawson, Roden, Walker, Holliday, Gillam, Wilkinson. Subs (all used): Cooper, Newton, Zamett, Olstrom.

Tries: Bulman (2), Holliday, Dixon, Walmsley.

Goals: Walmsley (3),Holliday. Field goal: Williams

Newcastle: Young, Johnson, Turner, Gill, Clegg, Shorrocks, Woods, N.Wilde, Simons, Wood, Oakley, S. Wilde, McAvoy. Subs (all used): Hodgson, T. Chapelhow, J. Chapelhow, Dean.

Tries: Gill, Johnson, S. Wilde, Clegg.

Goals: Woods (2)

Referee: Jack Smith

Star man: Lachlan Walmsley