Brown stars in narrow win
Kevin Brown masterminded Widnes Vikings\' shaky passage to victory over Batley and a Challenge Cup quarter-final against trophy favourites St Helens.
The Widnes skipper scored two tries and helped create two others to end the plucky Bulldogs\' giant-killing hopes.
But it was a tremendous effort by the Championship side, who fought back from 26-6 down early in the second half to trail only 26-22 with 12 minutes left.
Two tries from Wayne Reittie, sandwiched by another from Matt Fozzard, stunned Widnes who were relieved to hang on for a nervy victory.
Batley have now lost all five Challenge Cup matches against Widnes since 1925 but turned in a battling show to earn a standing ovation from their fans at the final hooter.
The Vikings were full of confidence after their 38-24 Super League win over Leeds despite being without Rhys Hanbury, Eamon O\'Carroll, Danny Tickle, Hep Cahill, Danny Galea and Alex Gerrard.
Batley brought in Alex Bretherton, Adam Gledhill and Fozzard for Shaun Squires, Keegan Hirst and Tom Thackray after their 23-10 win at Workington.
St Helens are still the only visiting side to win on the Vikings\' artificial pitch this season but Batley can be proud of their magnificent display.
Gil Dudson should have fired Widnes into the lead but spilled the ball close to the line, with Batley prop Alex Rowe making a couple of early big hits.
The Bulldogs made an encouraging start to rattle Widnes, who had to wait until midway through the first half to go ahead after a storming midfield break by Patrick Ah Van.
Brown dummied through for Matt Whitley to send Lloyd White over and Jack Owens booted the conversion.
But then Chris Clarkson spilled the ball from the restart and it proved costly, with the impressive Rowe plunging over from close range and Scott Leatherbarrow adding the goal to level the scores at 6-6.
Brown and Whitley combined again to send White over after 25 minutes but the try was disallowed by referee Joe Cobb for a forward pass.
Widnes struggled to gain dominance until Brown\'s pass allowed Ah Van to bulldoze his way through Reittie\'s tackle and make it 10-6 on the half-hour.
Brown then crossed for two tries in three minutes to put Widnes in the driving seat.
He shot past Fozzard and Alistair Leak for his first touchdown and then wriggled his way over to make it 20-6 at half-time.
Cameron Phelps looked to have booked the Vikings\' last-eight place when he brushed off James Craven with ease after 45 minutes to extend the advantage to 26-6.
Brown would have completed his hat-trick had he been able to take a difficult pass from Joe Mellor but Batley never gave up and deserved a second try through Reittie after Ah Van failed to deal with Leatherbarrow\'s kick.
Widnes eased off and paid the price, with substitute Fozzard strolling through a gap on the hour and Leatherbarrow\'s conversion reducing the arrears to 26-16.
Rowe was held up over the line and then made another barnstorming break as Batley continued to pile on the pressure with the Vikings rattled.
It was no surprise when Reittie bagged a second try after some mesmerising play by Craven to cut the gap to 26-22 as Leatherbarrow landed the touchline conversion.
But Widnes held on to seal a quarter-final spot.