Widnes 24 Batley Bulldogs 22
VIKINGS came from behind to secure a thrilling victory against Batley at the Stobart Stadium Halton on Sunday.
The win saw Widnes leapfrog their Yorkshire opponents into third place in the Co-operative Championship table, behind leaders Featherstone and Leigh – both teams who Widnes will face in the coming weeks.
A late Stephen Tyrer penalty secured maximum points for the home side, who are now unbeaten in nine successive league matches.
But the result was right in the balance until the final whistle, with Karl Harrison’s men almost salvaging a draw with a penalty of their own in the final minute, only for Paul Handforth’s 55-metre effort to fall just short of the crossbar.
Head coach Denis Betts was delighted with his side’s effort to hang on for the victory.
He said: “Once again we showed a lot of character, winning is a habit and you could see the lads just wouldn’t let themselves be beaten.
“It would have been really tough to swallow if they had got the draw at the end because I think we did enough to win the match.
“We made it a bit too easy for them in the first half and lacked that killer instinct with the ball, but we came out fighting and put in a really solid performance.”
Vikings made the perfect start to the match when prop Ben Kavanagh crossed in the opening minute after Batley had allowed the kick-off to find touch.
But the visitors found their rhythm quickly, starving Widnes of the ball and field position.
And on seven minutes, half-back Pau Mennell levelled the score before centre Daley Williams crashed in from close range five minutes later.
Batley were suddenly on a roll as Jonny Campbell made it 14-6.
Paddy Flynn pulled four points back for Widnes but replacement prop Sean Hesketh bulldozed his way over for Batley on the half-hour with Handforth’s conversion giving his side a 20-10 cushion.
With just two minutes of the half remaining, Widnes scrum-half Joe Mellor produced a superb individual effort to weave his way to the posts and put the game at 20-16.
On 55 minutes, Handforth added a 30-metre penalty before a high bomb from Mellor saw Widnes winger Kevin Penny outjump his opposite number for to score in the corner.
Tyrer’s conversion levelled the scores at 22-22.
A 60 metre break from Penny saw the Bulldogs penalised for interference at the ensuing play-the-ball, and Tyrer coolly slotted the penalty goal to give Widnes their winning margin.
But the drama was not over as a Handforth penalty attempt from distance with two minutes to go just failed to make the distance.