Northern Rail Cup round-up

Holders Widnes put one foot in the quarter-finals of the Northern Rail Cup with a thrilling victory over Barrow.

In a repeat of last season’s final, the Vikings fought back from 20-6 down to defeat the Raiders, coached by ex-Widnes boss Steve McCormack, to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Championship winners Barrow looked good for their lead, going in 18-6 at half time thanks to tries from James Nixon, Liam Harrison and Nathan Mossop, and Jamie Rooney‘s two conversions and two penalties saw them 20-6 up early in the second half.

But Widnes had the visitors under pressure for most of the second half, and clawed their way back in to it when Dave Houghton crossed near the posts, and when Thomas Coyle crossed for a converted try with three minutes left, the Vikings were within two.

And in the dying seconds, Widnes found space on the right hand side, as Toa Kohe-Love fed dual-registration star Shaun Ainscough, who expertly finished by the flag to the glee of the home support.

As their two main rivals fought it out at the Stobart Stadium, Halifax were quietly going about another thoroughly professional display, dispatching of London Skolars 68-0 in the capital. Rob Worrincy scored four tries as Matt Calland’s side made it 92 unanswered points in their opening two games.

Keighley retained their 100% record and virtually ensured their place in the last eight with a 38-10 win over Workington, Jonny Presley scoring a hat-trick, while in Pool B Hunslet made it two wins from two with a 28-14 win over Oldham.

Ian Millward’s Leigh bounced back from their disappointing defeat at York last week to batter Featherstone 36-6. Half-back Tim Hartley was at the heart of the Centurions’ best moves, and centre Mick Nanyn helped himself to a brace of tries, to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Batley continued their impressive start to the season with an emphatic 46-10 win over Swinton. Playing up the hill in the first half, the Bulldogs went in 14-4 up at the break, but cut loose in the second half, running in nine tries to make it eight points from nine so far this season.

Blackpool kept their faint hopes of progression alive with a 74-6 rout of struggling Gateshead, Tom Hemingway contributing 22 points to their tally, while Whitehaven scored 40 unanswered first half points in a 54-10 demolition of Doncaster.

Elsewhere, Dewsbury beat Rochdale 48-12 and Sheffield overcame a brave first half display by York to win 40-10.

With re-arranged games still to be played, the tables still look a bit one-sided, but Keighley, Widnes and Batley look favourites to progress from Pool 1, while everything is still to play for in Pool 2.

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