SHANE Grady held his nerve to snatch a 30-30 draw for the Vikings in their Northern Rail Cup group game at Batley on Sunday.

The lanky centre calmly stroked over a tricky conversion three minutes from time after Anthony Thackeray had brought the Vikings back within two points with a smartly taken try.

The draw, worth two points in Northern Rail group games, could be the difference between Widnes qualifying for the quarter-finals and being eliminated before the knockout rounds.

And it was a result you wouldn't have put money on when the Bulldogs, playing down the infamous Mount Pleasant slope, held a 30-16 lead with 25 minutes remaining.

But Widnes showed great character and got themselves back into the contest when debutant winger Shaun Ainscough latched onto Thackeray's superbly weighted chip to touch down wide out.

Thackeray turned from hero to villain two minutes later when he was sin-binned for a foul on Batley's two-try fullback Johnny Campbell but 12-man Widnes pulled a further score back as Ainscough completed a double from Toa Kohe-Love's suspiciously forward-looking pass.

In the meantime, the Bulldogs otherwise impeccable goalkicker Gareth Moore had missed a penalty shot which would ultimately have seen his side home.

But the door was left open and Thackery's return to the action saw him dummy his way through from close range to give Grady his chance for some minor heroics from midway between the posts and the touchline.

The first half had seen both sides looking vulnerable defensively.

Batley took the lead on eight minutes through winger Lee Greenwood before Lee Doran crashed in to level things.

The home side seemed to have a stranglehold when Campbell bounced over for a try with Widnes claiming a double-movement and giant substitute James Martin found a hole big enough even for him to make it 18-6.

The introduction of substitute Ben Kavanagh sparked things for the Vikings and twice his combination with scrum-half James Webster came to fruition with tries up the right centre channel.

Greenwood sandwiched his second try between Kavanagh's brace to give the Bulldogs a 24-16 interval lead.

Widnes played better rugby going up the hill in the second half and will probably feel a draw was a fair reflection of a highly entertaining contest.

A win from either of their two remaining group games could be enough to see the Vikings through to the knockout stages of the competition.

Widnes: Ford; Ainscough (2t), Kohe-Love, Grady (3g), Gardner; Thackeray (1t), Webster; Pickersgill, Smith, Gannon, Doran (1t), Allen, Gerrard. Subs: Kavanagh (2t), Houghton, Farrell, Davis.