Batley Bulldogs 20 Widnes Vikings 18

WIDNES remain bottom of the Betfred Championship table after a shock 20-18 defeat at Batley.

It was a chance for Vikings to start a charge up the ladder but in the end, after a nerve-tingling encounter, a late Bulldogs penalty proved the difference.

Widnes boss Kieron Purtill was forced to ring the changes with Sam Wilde, Ted Chapelhow and Owen Buckley missing from the previous week’s win at Oldham.

Star centre Anthony Gelling also failed to make his expected comeback after returning from his trip Down Under.

Danny Craven, Olly Ashall-Bott and Dan Norman remained on the sidelines.

Youngster Sam Freeman came in on the wing and two more Academy products were given a spot on the bench in the shape of Liam Walsh and Jayden Hatton.

The first half hour of the game was the epitome of the modern rugby league cliche, arm-wrestle.

Both sides were solid in the tackle and clear-cut chances were few and far between.

Eventually it was Vikings who broke the deadlock when crisp passing allowed full-back Loyd Roby to stretch over from close range with Jack Owens adding the extras.

It looked like Widnes were starting to take control but they were hit with a sucker punch when a crossfield kick was palmed back by lanky centre Paul Brearley and fellow substitute Michael Ward was on hand to touch down. Dave Scott landed the conversion.

The last few minutes of the first half saw Batley with their tails up and in the end the Vikings were perhaps happy to go into the dressing rooms level at 6-6.

Playing up the notorious Mount Pleasant slope in the second half, Widnes started well and put the opposition line under pressure.

The pressure finally paid off on 47 minutes when Jordan Johnstone combined in an old-fashioned runaround move with Hep Cahill with the former slicing over to the left of the posts.

Owens’ conversion restored the Vikings’ six point lead but it didn’t last long.

The Bulldogs were reduced to 12-men when Toby Everett was sent to the sin-bin for a cannonball tackle but it didn’t stop Matt Diskin’s men from rumbling upfield and ex-Rochdale man Joe Taira bulldozed over to leval things up at 12-12.

Widnes quickly grabbed the advantage once more when Roby cut through the home defence like a knife through butter for a fine try, once more goaled by Owens.

Bulldogs stormed back down the slope and put the Widnes line under huge pressure.

Vikings just couldn’t escape their own end and after the ball was kept alive winger Jonny Campbell scored out wide for the home side with Scott’s fine goal once more levelling things up.

At 18-18, it was a case of the next score wins it.

The first chance came Widnes’ way but Owens’ 25 metre drop-goal attempt went to the right of the uprights.

Disaster struck for the Vikings with three minutes remaining when twice they were penalised for lying in the ruck with the second occasion providing Scott with a simple penalty goal to take the spoils for Batley.

Batley: Scott; Reittie, Smeaton, Tomlinson, Campell; Jouffret, Yates; Glehall, Leak, Lillycrop, Downs, Bretherton, Manning. Subs: Everett, Taira, Ward, Brearley.

Widnes: Roby; Ince, Dean, Brand, Freeman; Owens, Lyons; Cahill, Johnstone, J Chapelhow, Walker, Hansen, Leuluai. Subs: Speakman, Walsh, Farnworth, Hatton.

Half-Time: 6-6

Referee: Mr Griffiths