Brown confident of reaching cup semi-finals

Widnes stand-off Kevin Brown is confident they can progress to the Challenge Cup semi-finals by beating Keighley on Thursday night.

The Vikings haven’t reached the last four of rugby league’s oldest competition since 1996, when as a second division team, they were beaten 24-14 by eventual winners St Helens.

This time it’s them at risk of a potential giant-killing, at the hands of Championship side Keighley, who are without player-coach Paul March, currently serving a stadium ban for verbally abusing a match official.

Brown said: “Keighley have some quality players but if we can play the way we know we can, then we can win comfortably.

“Having a home draw is a massive boost for us. In the last two Cup rounds we have played away at Halifax and at Salford, and they were both really tough games.

“Keighley will not be coming to us to lose the game, and they are probably happy that they got us in the draw. The game is set up nicely.

“The tie against Halifax might have looked comfortable in the end on the scoreboard but it was anything but.”

Widnes have had a good first half of the season, and currently occupy a Super League play-off spot.

They have a proud history in the Challenge Cup, having won it seven times, the fifth most prolific record in the game.

Their last cup final win was in 1984, and their last final appearance was in 1993.

Brown added: “This will be the start of the second half of the year and it would be good to kick it off by getting to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

“But it is going to be tough and we don’t want to take Keighley too lightly because Super League teams can get burnt.

“We have a group of lads that want success. Denis Betts has instilled a belief that we can compete in the big competitions and our next progression is competing in big finals.

“But then again, just talking about complacency doesn’t mean that it is not a danger. We can’t give them any extra help or enthusiasm.

“On paper, as a full-time side, we are much fitter than they are, so it will be good if we can get them into an arm wrestle, but we know that they’ll come firing at us.

“We will respect them and I will tell the boys to treat them as if we were playing Leeds or Wigan in Super League, but I will also tell them to enjoy the occasion.

“We reached the quarter-finals last year, so to reach the semi-finals would be a good achievement at a club where progression is the key.”

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