Batley 25-24 Widnes

Alex Brown scored the winning try in the last two minutes as Batley snatched a historic victory in the Northern Rail Cup final against Widnes.

It looked like Widnes had done enough to become the first club to retain the trophy, as they came from 12-0 and 15-12 down to lead 24-15 with just over ten minutes to play.

But Brown weaved through to reduce the deficit before jumping highest to gather a Paul Handforth kick and score in the corner to give the Bulldogs a 25-24 win and their first trophy for more than half a century.

Batley took advantage of a sluggish start by the holders, and took the lead through Jason Walton, after Handforth had broke through a gap and got his hands free to offload the ball.

The Bulldogs maintained their momentum and Sean Hesketh found himself in lots of room to cross by the side of the sticks and give Batley a two score lead.

Cheered on by a large travelling support, the Vikings finally found their way in to the game, when Ben Davies charged over from a quick tap. Man of the match Anthony Thackeray was next on the scoresheet, dummying the Bulldogs defence to score a classy try.

Another neat dummy by Thackeray and subsequent break saw Widnes earn a penalty just 20 metres out, but they turned down the opportunity for two points, and missed out when Thomas Coyle‘s drop goal sailed wide of the posts.

Opposing scrum half Gareth Moore showed Coyle how was it was done moments later to edge Batley 13-12 in front, and the Bulldogs then took a penalty from a similar position to what Widnes had refused just moments earlier to stretch their advantage to 15-12.

Widnes, who beat Barrow 34-16 in the final last year, got the crucial first try in the second half through Paddy Flynn, and when Chris Gerrard jinked his way through the defence, with both tries converted by Shane Grady, it looked like the Vikings fans would go home happy.

But Brown had other ideas. First he took advantage of some weak right sided defence to score, Moore’s conversion reducing arrears to three, and then pounced on Handforth’s chip kick after Widnes had lost the ball in their own 20 metres.

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