Widnes Vikings 26 Batley Bulldogs 22: Underdogs Batley receive standing ovation after cup exploits

Batley's James Brown.
Batley's James Brown.
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Kevin Brown masterminded Widnes Vikings’ shaky passage to victory over Batley and a Challenge Cup quarter-final against trophy favourites St Helens.

The Widnes skipper scored two tries and helped create two others to end the plucky Bulldogs’ giant-killing hopes. But it was a tremendous effort by the Championship side, who fought back from 26-6 down early in the second half to trail only 26-22 with 12 minutes left.

Tries by Alex Rowe, Wayne Reittie (2), sandwiched by another from Matt Fozard, stunned Widnes who were relieved to hang on for a nervy victory.

Batley have now lost all five Challenge Cup matches against Widnes since 1925 but turned in a battling show to earn a standing ovation from their fans at the final hooter.

Batley had outstanding forwards in try scorer Alex Rowe and James Brown and boss John Kear said: “It was a great effort and that’s what the Challenge Cup is all about.

“We were the minnows, underdogs and written off but had a growing belief in ourselves.

“I’m sure everyone enjoyed it in the stadium and it was great for the Widnes fans to give us a standing ovation at the end.

“Alex Rowe has always had that in his locker and I told my players to watch out for Kevin Brown in their side.

“But we had our own Brown star in James and full-back James Craven showed how good he is too. We showed a great deal of belief, desire and mental toughness and really dug deep at the well. We got excited near the end to make it a thrilling cup tie.”

Widnes: Owens, Ah Van, Marsh, Phelps, Flynn, Brown, Mellor, Dudson, White, Jospeh, Clarkson, Whitley, Isa. Subs: Heremaia, Manuokafoa, Leuluai, Dean.

Batley: Craven, Reittie, Ainscough, Faal, Bretherton, Ainscough, Leak, Leatherbarrow, Gledhill, Blake, Rowe, Scott, Day, Brown. Subs: Chandler, Fozard, Lillycrop, Hesketh.

Referee: Joe Cobb (RFL).

Attendance: 3,866.